Drumbeat: November 16, 2011

Pump Up the Storage

If we adopt solar and wind as major components of our energy infrastructure as we are weaned from fossil fuels, we have to solve the energy storage problem in a big way. An earlier post demonstrated that we do not likely possess enough materials in the world to simply build giant lead-acid (or nickel-based or lithium-based) batteries to do the job. Comments frequently pointed to pumped hydro storage as a far more sensible answer. Indeed, pumped storage is currently the dominant—and nearly only—grid-scale storage solution out there. Here, we will take a peek at pumped hydro and evaluate what it can do for us.

Thousands of Kuwaitis 'storm parliament'

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — Thousands of Kuwaitis stormed parliament on Wednesday after police and elite forces beat up protesters marching on the prime minister's home to demand he resign, an opposition MP said.

"Now, we have entered the house of the people," said Mussallam al-Barrak, who led the protest along with several other lawmakers and youth activists also calling for the dissolution of parliament over alleged corruption.

Diesel shortage hits prairie truckers

The amiable Winnipegger was sitting in the cab of his truck — near the end of a line of trucks waiting to refuel at east Regina's Husky Travel Centre.

He's one of the many people paying the price in time and worry, from a quadruple whammy of problems in refining the diesel fuel that runs the Prairies' heavy trucks.

Synyshyn said he's heard talk from truckers that there's no diesel between Regina and Calgary.

More pain as another fuel shortage haunts Uganda

Fuel prices are set to shoot through the roof as dealers report a shortage in supplies, the dilemma of which presents a nagging set of problems.

With the expected hike in pump prices, Ugandans are to experience higher costs of living, while the shilling’s recent gain against the dollar will almost count for nothing for those heading to fuel up their vehicles. For about two weeks, Uganda is expected to experience high fuel prices due to a sudden shortage in supplies, according to some dealers.

S. Sudan oil firms face fuel cuts

Oil companies operating in South Sudan’s Unity state face shortage of fuel, an official said on Tuesday. Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai said he now worries that the oil producing land-locked country could soon be unable to execute development programmes due to lack of fuel.

Fewer Low-Income Oklahomans To Receive Winter Heating Assistance

OKLAHOMA CITY - A program that has helped low-income Oklahomans with their winter heating bills in the past won't help as many in need this winter.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), the federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has greatly reduced the dollar amount available this winter. OKDHS officials say because of the lower amount provided in the federal budget, the number of Oklahomans who traditionally receive benefits will be drastically reduced.

Chile’s energy experts weigh in on debate

A commission of energy experts delivered their recommendations to President Sebastián Piñera Wednesday on what some call a looming energy crisis in Chile. The 200-page document called for a greater non-conventional renewable energy initiative and for more governmental involvement in all areas of energy.

Exxon Preparing to Shut Antwerp Oil Refinery for Strike

Exxon Mobil Corp. is preparing to halt units at its Antwerp oil refinery in Belgium on Nov. 18, Johan Scharpe, a company spokesman, said by telephone.

Oil sands opponents "treacherous" -Canada minister

(Reuters) - In a sign of the strain the Canadian government is feeling over development of the tar sands, Environment Minister Peter Kent said on Wednesday that opposition legislators who campaigned in Washington against the idea were treacherous.

Route Proposals May Ease an Oil Pipeline Bottleneck

OTTAWA — With the timing, and perhaps the future, of the Keystone XL pipeline project from Canada’s oil sands to the Gulf Coast now uncertain, two alternatives to the hotly contested project have begun emerging.

Both would try to solve one of the problems that the Keystone project was meant to address: the shortage of pipeline capacity for carrying oil from a main terminal in Cushing, Okla., to refineries in Texas and other parts of the Gulf Coast.

TransCanada pours cold water on rivals’ plans to ship to Asia

TransCanada has been “taking a pretty hard look” at ways to send Canadian crude to one of the country’s coasts, where it could be loaded onto tankers and shipped to offshore markets, Alex Pourbaix, the company’s president of energy and oil pipelines, said Wednesday.

But he suggested that problems encountered by Keystone XL, which drew heated opposition in the United States, pale in comparison with what awaits those looking to build new pipelines through British Columbia.

PetroChina's Dalian terminal receives 1st LNG cargo

(Reuters) - PetroChina's Dalian liquefied natural gas receiving terminal, its second and China's fifth, received its first cargo of the super-chilled gas on Wednesday, in line with an earlier report by Reuters.

A Long, Long Road to Recycling Nuclear Fuel

The question of what to do with spent nuclear fuel from civilian power reactors has stirred renewed interest in reprocessing — that is, chopping up the fuel, retrieving materials that can power a reactor and possibly recovering the most troublesome waste products so they can be broken up in the reactor into easier-to-handle elements.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Transitioning to Cold Fusion

Events move quickly these days. Two weeks ago we were watching Bologna, Italy where an entrepreneur and a retired physics professor claimed to have discovered the Holy Grail of energy - cold fusion or as it is now known: Low Energy Nuclear Reactions. At the time, there was (and still is) widespread concern that the various demonstrations of an energy-producing devices were a scam as the developers, for commercial reasons, refused to give outsiders access to their inner workings.

Gas mileage boost means pricier cars - EPA

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- New federal gas mileage rules proposed Wednesday will add thousands of dollars to the cost of new cars. But in the long run, regulators say, drivers will spend less on gas, outweighing the additional cost at the dealership.

A new challenge for electric cars -- fire

Electric cars -- already on a steep climb because of price and distance anxiety -- will have a greater commercial challenge if consumers fear their car could catch fire. So that the news that a General Motors Volt burst into flames in a testing-center parking lot is going to raise alarm bells. In fact, the incident is not reason for distress-- the vehicle was undergoing crash tests, and as GM points out, any car is subject to fire should a crash be sufficiently severe. The important thing -- and the one that GM will have to figure out -- is that it caught fire three weeks after the latest test crash.

Energy Secretary Chu defends Solyndra loan

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Energy secretary Steven Chu is hitting back at criticism of a government loan program for renewable energy in the wake of the Solyndra scandal, saying the U.S. must "compete or accept defeat" in the clean tech race.

In remarks prepared for delivery before a Congressional committee on Thursday, Chu said the government should not waver in its support for clean energy despite potentially being on the hook for more than $500 million after Solyndra's bankruptcy.

The Solyndra question: Should the U.S. fail in order to succeed?

Is government-led investment in clean-energy technologies a boondoggle and destined to fail? In China, Japan and South Korea, the answer is no. But according to a few long pieces over the weekend, the answer is the opposite when it comes to the United States. The authors ask in essence whether the Obama Administration is out of its mind in joining the global race for the development and marketing of solar panels (pictured above, solar panels in China), wind turbines, advanced batteries and electric-enhanced vehicles.

Americans Waking Up to Light Bulb Changeover

The first step in getting people to change the way they consume energy is making them aware that change is afoot. When it comes to lighting technologies, in particular, it seems that consumer awareness is growing.

For the first time, a majority of Americans now know that federal legislation will eliminate “most traditional incandescent lighting by 2014,” according to a new survey conducted by the lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania.

Behind Shift on Smog and Re-election Calculus

WASHINGTON — The summons from the president came without warning the Thursday before Labor Day. As she was driven the four blocks to the White House, Lisa P. Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, suspected that the news would not be good. What she did not see coming was a rare public rebuke the president was about to deliver by rejecting her proposal to tighten the national standard for smog.

ECONOMY: Money and Energy

Money and energy have always been linked. For example, a gold currency was essentially an energy currency because the amount of gold produced in a year was determined by the cost of the energy it took to extract it. If energy (perhaps in the form of slaves or horses rather than fossil fuel) was cheap and abundant, goldmining would prove profitable, and a lot of gold would go into circulation enabling more trading to be done. If the increased level of activity then drove the price of slaves or coal up, the flow of gold would decline, slowing the rate at which the economy grew. It was a neat,natural balancing mechanism which worked rather well. In fact, the only time it broke down seriously was when the Spanish conquistadors got gold for very little energy—by stealing it from the Aztecs and the Incas. That caused a massive inflation and damaged the Spanish economy for many years.

Selling the Oil Illusion, American Style

The US is currently enjoying its second stabilization phase since the peak in 1970. (Daily oil production has rebounded from a deep hole in 2008, from below 5 mbpd to above 5.5 mbpd). The first stabilization period lasted for more than 7 years, from 1977 to 1985. While it did not reverse the overall decline trend, which had resumed by 1990, this was certainly good news, just as our current production increases are good news. But the production history laid out graphically here is instructive and gives a clear warning: It would be unwise to herald the recent uptick in domestic production with a "new era" headline. Deepwater drilling, Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska were all "new era" events in their day as well. Or so they seemed.

Now, three respectable publications have recently cast the advent of new oil extraction in America as a kind of miracle. And indeed, technologically, the refinement of hydraulic fracturing techniques -- first used to extract natural gas, and now used to extract oil -- is miraculous. But a technique such as this, although replicable and repeatable, will not change the fact that newer, unconventional resources are developed and produce oil at a much slower rate. One year after the Black Giant of East Texas was discovered in the early 1930s, it was producing just 1 mbpd. The US no longer has resources such as this to exploit. The history of US oil production over the past 40 years should make this clear.

Oil falls below $99 after surprise US supply rise

SINGAPORE – Oil prices fell below $99 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed U.S. crude supplies rose unexpectedly last week, suggesting demand may remain weak.

...The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories added 1.3 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted a drop of 1.5 million barrels.

Inventories of gasoline fell 2.9 million barrels last week while distillates dropped 2.6 million barrels, the API said.

Gas Exporters Seek ‘High’ Prices as They Cooperate on Supply, Projects

The world’s largest natural-gas exporters aim to cooperate in developing projects for production and sale of the fuel to raise prices and boost supply.

Officials from Qatar, Iran, Egypt and Algeria, among others, agreed today in the Qatari capital Doha that the price of the fuel used to generate electricity is too low. They disagreed on how the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, a producers’ group set up to share market information and coordinate projects, could also help maximize the income of its 11 members.

Canadian Oil Sands Provides Syncrude Production Update

Canadian Oil Sands Limited (COS.TO) last night announced that crude oil production from the Syncrude facility is now expected to total 105-107 million barrels for 2011.

Indian Oil Slumps to Two-Year Low After Cutting Gasoline Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s biggest refiner, dropped to the lowest in more than two years in Mumbai trading after state refiners cut gasoline prices for the first time since January 2009.

Russia says too early to speak about new gas price deal with Ukraine

It is too early to speak about any new accords reached between Russia and Ukraine on gas price cuts for the ex-Soviet republic before Moscow and Kiev sign corresponding agreements, the Russian government's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Ukrainian government source said Moscow and Kiev had agreed on a new gas price and would sign an agreement in the next few days but declined to specify the agreed gas price for Ukraine.

Petrobras workers postpone strike after new offer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's main federation of oil workers postponed to next week a strike planned for Wednesday as workers evaluate a new offer by state-run Petrobras.

UK Buzzard oilfield output reduced again-sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil output at the Buzzard oilfield in the North Sea, the UK's largest, remains reduced, two trading sources said on Wednesday, lowering supply of the crude that normally sets the dated Brent benchmark.

Keystone Pipeline Will Be Rerouted

At a special session of the Nebraska Legislature, a state senator announced Monday that TransCanada had agreed to adjust its intended route of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region of the state.

The Keystone victory that wasn’t

Now that Barack Obama has kicked the Keystone project down the road, anti-pipeline activists are rejoicing. “This is what it means to change the conversation,” said Naomi Klein. “This is an amazing victory for our movement,” crowed Bill McKibben and his 350.org team.

In fact, the decision to re-review the pipeline route is an amazing victory for political expediency. By ensuring that nothing will happen until after the 2012 election, Mr. Obama buys himself a reprieve with the environmentalists. But nothing else will change. The U.S. will not consume a litre less of oil if Keystone is never built. It will simply buy the oil from somewhere else. Nor will this decision threaten the long-term future of the oil (oops, tar) sands. If the U.S. doesn’t buy our oil, the Chinese will.

BP Must Face Gulf Spill Claims From Alabama and Louisiana

BP Plc (BP) must face claims under federal maritime law, though not under state law, in suits brought by Louisiana and Alabama over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a judge said.

The states can sue for negligence and products liability under general maritime law and are eligible for punitive damages, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said yesterday. He dismissed claims brought under state environmental laws, including demands for civil penalties, finding they were preempted by federal law governing the Outer Continental Shelf.

Shell, Mitsubishi Win Government Approval for $17 Billion Iraq Gas Project

Iraq approved a $17 billion contract with Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and Mitsubishi Corp. (8058) for the capture of natural gas at three oilfields in the south of the country, a government spokesman said.

Iraq has a 51 percent stake in the venture known as South Gas Co., Ali Al-Dabbagh said today. Shell has a 44 percent stake, while Mitsubishi owns the rest, he said by telephone from Baghdad. The agreement is for 25 years, according to Al-Dabbagh.

Nigeria: Solving Nigeria's Oil, Gas Sector Problems

While a country like Namibia got "Biggest YoY winner" in the recent annual Africa Oil & Gas conference held in Cape Town, Nigeria, the self glorified giant of Africa clinched "Biggest YoY loser" award.

The development has once again raised the question as to whether the present government can really achieve its goal of becoming one of the 20 most powerful economies in the world in the next few years, as encapsulated in the various programmes touted by the President Goodluck Jonathan led administration.

Nationalism Replaces Crisis as Biggest Threat to Metal Supply

Rising government demands for higher taxes and royalties are becoming a bigger threat to mining companies and their production than the financial crisis that’s wiped $6 trillion off stock market values since July.

Oil and China

Even though China is no longer self sufficient with respect to oil, and its dependency on the global oil industry will only increase in the years ahead, Dan believes that China’s leaders are less paranoid about this dependency than they were in the days of Mao. According to Dan, China now realizes that it can buy the energy it needs. He quotes an energy strategist in Beijing who said: “There’s no other solution but to rely on the marketplace. What’s different about exporting to America and importing energy from elsewhere? China is part of world markets.”

Syria defectors 'attack military base in Harasta'

Syrian army defectors have attacked a major military base near Damascus, Syrian opposition groups say.

Parts of the notorious Air Force Intelligence building in Harasta were reported to have been destroyed, but there were no reports of casualties.

Tensions rise on South China Sea dispute

TENSIONS over the oil-rich and strategically important South China Sea escalated yesterday, as Chinese state media accused the US and the Philippines of planning a ''grab'' for its resources and a senior foreign ministry official said it did not want the issue discussed at this week's East Asia Summit in Bali.

Clinton warns against intimidation in South China Sea dispute

(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged claimants to the South China Sea not to resort to intimidation to push their cause in the potentially oil-rich waters, an indirect reference to China ahead of a regional leaders' summit.

Clinton reiterated that the United States wanted a candid discussion of the maritime dispute, which an Australian think tank warned earlier this year could lead to war, when the leaders gather in Bali, Indonesia, this week.

Saudi prince warns against any attack on Iran

(Reuters) - A military attack on Iran aimed at halting its nuclear program could have catastrophic consequences and only strengthen Tehran's determination to make an atomic weapon, the former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence services said on Tuesday.

"Such an act I think would be foolish and to undertake it I think would be tragic," Prince Turki al-Faisal said at a Washington, D.C., appearance.

Turkey: no plans for nuclear cooperation with Iran

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has no plans for cooperation with Iran to build nuclear power plants, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday, a day after a senior Iranian official had floated the possibility.

Russia Recalls France's Revolutionary Slide

Importantly, however, Russia’s relative prosperity makes the country even more like France of the late 1700s, about which de Tocqueville wrote that “steadily increasing prosperity, far from tranquilizing the population, everywhere promoted a spirit of unrest.” Unlike in eighteenth-century France, however, Russia’s economic growth and government budget is uniquely dependent on energy revenues and therefore vulnerable to external shocks. Mr. Putin acknowledged this and argued that the government had been trimming spending, which now requires an oil price of $108 per barrel to balance Russia’s federal budget. Further, he said, the country’s reserves would allow the government to manage prices as low as $93 per barrel.

Yet Russia’s prime minister seemed unconcerned at the observation by the Brookings Institution’s respected economist Clifford Gaddy that separately from the oil shock of the 1970s and early 1980s, oil prices during the last decade have been radically higher than real prices since 1880, with today’s oil prices roughly four times higher than the historical average. A return to prices consistent with these historical levels could be devastating for Russia’s economy; the fall in prices after the earlier shock arguably contributed more than any other single factor to the Soviet Union’s collapse. Taking into account that fear of “peak oil” (peaking production, leading to shortages) has been widespread for most of oil’s history as a commodity, Mr. Putin was remarkably sanguine—though he would be understandably wary of admitting to such worries if he had them.

OilVoice Interview with Australian Based Oil and Gas Company Austin Exploration Limited

My firm belief is peak oil will only come into consideration when the education and science into extraction techniques has peaked and that will not happen in the foreseeable future.

IEA Says Conventional Oil Has Peaked: $1.5 Trillion Per Year Needed to Combat Peak Oil

The World Energy Outlook 2011 is out from the International Energy Agency.

For me, the one number to hone in on is the daily projected oil demand in 2035.

That number is projected to be 99 million barrels a day.

Keep the assets, ensure our future

Energy security is crucial for our nation and the selloff of energy assets may sabotage the future of New Zealand. According to the International Energy Agency, the world hit peak oil in 2006 and we are now on the downhill side of the curve with potentially as little as 30 years left before we are sucking the bottom of the barrel.

U.S. Energy Independence – The Big Lie

It is too bad that our 255 million cars can’t run on hot air. American presidents have propagated the Big Lie of energy independence for the last three decades. The Democrats have lied about green energy solutions and the Republicans have lied about domestic sources saving the day. These deceitful politicians put the country at risk as they misinform and mislead the non-thinking American public. They have been declaring our energy independence for 30 years, but we import three times as much oil today as we did in the early 1980’s. The CPI has gone up 350% since 1978, but the price of a barrel of oil has risen 800% over the same time frame.

Nuclear-Based Electricity and Economic Theory

The most important project in energy economics at the present time is understanding that optimal national energy structures of the future will be a mix of all sorts of items – nuclear, fossil fuels, renewables, various alternatives etc. The anti-nuclear booster club wants to eliminate nuclear from that collection, but fortunately they are going to be greatly disappointed. Once this is appreciated, some effort should immediately be put into comprehending perfectly a few basic characteristics of nuclear.

Gillard Seeks to Open Uranium Exports to India in Reversal of Party Policy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is seeking to overturn a ban on Australian uranium exports to India, risking a battle with her Labor Party and the Greens as she tries to strengthen diplomatic ties and boost the economy.

“Selling uranium to India will be good for the Australian economy and good for Australian jobs,” Gillard told reporters in Canberra today. She called on Labor members to back the policy shift at the party’s national conference next month.

France’s Possible Nuclear Split

When it comes to France’s economic convergence with Germany, top of the list is reducing labor costs to match German industrial competitiveness. Harmonizing energy policy is hardly a priority. Nuclear-powered France enjoys some of Europe’s lowest power prices. But if the Socialist Party wins next year’s elections, aping Germany’s non-nuclear energy program may top the bill.

Report Calls for Changes in the Energy Department

WASHINGTON — Already under fire for granting a $535 million federal loan guarantee to Solyndra, the Department of Energy now faces a critique from within.

On Tuesday, the department’s inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman, issued a report calling for a wholesale restructuring of the department’s far-flung laboratories and other operations. He warned that “painful” staff reductions were certain to come as Congress sought deep federal budget cuts in the months ahead.

In one of his more striking criticisms, Mr. Friedman wrote that the department spent nearly $13 billion a year to run 16 separate laboratories but that only about half of that money went toward actual research, with 49 percent paying for overhead and capital spending. That ratio is “out of sync,” he said, and could be improved by combining some operations. The report noted that the Energy Department has three centers for nuclear weapons work, two for Navy propulsion reactors, five for energy technology and 13 for general science. “The department’s research complex is organized essentially as it has been for over a half-century,” it said.

Solyndra was asked to delay announcing layoffs until after 2010 vote

Washington (CNN) -- The Department of Energy last year urged struggling solar energy company Solyndra to delay announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 elections, according to information made public Tuesday by Republican congressional investigators.

'Energy farmer' sees future in willow trees

A farmer near Neepawa, Man. is growing one of Manitoba's first "energy crops" made from trees.

Four years ago, Roger Hanes planted an experimental plot of 26,000 willow trees in an attempt to prove the tree crop's viability as a heating fuel that would be more eco-friendly than coal or natural gas.

Peak demand and positive stories

Ethanol gets criticized because it doesn’t reduce GHG emissions enough. If world oil demand essentially remains static, the potential reductions from ethanol is perhaps more valuable. And given that cellulosic ethanol, and advanced corn ethanol systems, promise significantly greater GHG reductions, ethanol would be even more valuable.

A Room of Their Own for 2-Wheeled Commuters

Some commercial buildings, spurred by New York City law, are carving out dedicated storage rooms for bicycles.

The t-shirt designs of bicycling Renaissance man Russ Roca

Why zombies?

For me, the zombie apocalypse is symbolic of a lot of things. Peak oil, natural disaster, climate change. It is sort of a gallows humor. In every zombie movie, one of the big dilemmas of the survivors is finding gas for their cars! The season opener of The Walking Dead starts with the survivor's RV breaking down and their search for parts. Every time I see a zombie movie, I just want to tell them to get a bike. So the zombie shirt is my funny response to that.

Clean-air program offers cash to get old trucks off the road

Similar to the federal Cash for Clunkers initiative in 2009, the Charleston air cleanup program, and others like it nationwide, offers truckers a $5,000 incentive plus the scrap value of their truck, if it was made before 1994, to buy a 2004 or newer model truck, said Byron Miller, a spokesman for the state Ports Authority.

Congress pushes back on healthier school lunches

WASHINGTON – Who needs leafy greens and carrots when pizza and french fries will do?

In an effort many 9-year-olds will cheer, Congress wants pizza and french fries to stay on school lunch lines and is fighting the Obama administration's efforts to take unhealthy foods out of schools.

Measure Seeks to Give Border Patrol Power to Circumvent Environmental Laws

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — No one can recall the last time an illegal immigrant hiked into the rugged and remote wilderness of Glacier National Park in an attempt to slip into the United States. But that is not stopping some in Congress from proposing to give border agents control over environmental laws in protected areas.

What can U.N. climate talks in Durban deliver?

(Reuters) - Delegates from nearly 200 countries meet in South Africa from November 28 for major climate talks with the most likely outcome modest steps toward a broader deal to cut greenhouse gas pollution to fight climate change.

Climate change episode of Frozen Planet won't be shown in the U.S. as viewers don't believe in global warming

An episode of the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary series that looks at climate change has been scrapped in the U.S., where many are hostile to the idea of global warming.

British viewers will see all seven episodes of the multi-million-pound nature series throughout the Autumn.

But U.S. audiences will not be shown the last episode, which looks at the threat posed by man to the natural world.

Bill McKibben: Has global warming become a campaign issue?

Conventional wisdom has it that the next election will be fought exclusively on the topic of jobs. But President Obama’s announcement last week that he would postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election, which may effectively kill the project, makes it clear that other issues will weigh in — and that, oddly enough, one of them might even be climate change.

Just how much meat can eco-citizens eat?

Meat is bad: bad for you, bad for the environment. At least, that's the usual argument. Each year, the doors to the UN climate negotiations, which kick off again in Durban, South Africa, on 28 November, are assailed by demonstrators brandishing pro-vegetarian placards. The fact is that livestock farming accounts for a whopping 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. We can't all go veggie, so just how much meat is it OK for an eco-citizen to eat?

It's not just the demonstrators who are concerned about food's impact on the climate. This week, a major report concludes that food production is too close to the limits of a "safe operating space" defined by how much we need, how much we can produce, and its impact on the climate.

China sea levels to rise up to 130mm

Sea levels near China will rise up to 130 millimetres in the coming two decades due to global warming, a national scientific report has observed.

The rise in sea levels around China is predicted to submerge 18,000 sq km of coastal lowlands, Xinhua reported.

Rising sea levels threaten Bahrain

UP TO 22 per cent of Bahrain's land could be under water by the end of the century as a result of rising global sea levels, it was declared yesterday.

This is based on an Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme report, said Bahrain's UN resident co-ordinator Peter Grohmann.

Carbon Trading Initiative a Success, Study Says

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a 10-state program that has been testing a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade system, may be in trouble, with New Jersey planning to drop out and other states considering doing the same.

But a new study says the program has saved money for consumers, stimulated job growth and kept money in local economies in the states that signed up.

I would have guessed $70 before $100 last month. I would have been wrong. Interesting.

Crude oil prices hit $100, first time since July

The WTI/Brent spread is contracting sharply. WTI up over a dollar, Brent down over a dollar.

USA is exporting like crazy.

Distillate Reserves Take Record Hit

The EIA attributes this year’s lower stocks largely to foreign export demand, with Europe and Latin America leading the charge. The US exported a record 895,000 barrels per day of distillate fuel in August, the most recent month data is available for. Distillate exports from the East Coast have increased 59 percent (33,000 bbl/d) between January and August compared to the same period last year.

At this moment the spread is $9.56, way less than half what it was just a few weeks ago. Energy and Oil Prices

Ron P.

It is about the reversal of the Enbridge pipeline


Please somebody explain in some detail why the spread is falling so fast.

I know why it existed in the first place.

There have been some recent developments which have affected the WTI/Brent spread. Here's a pretty good explanation of them:

Canada pipeline firms sprint to end U.S. oil glut

By Anna Driver and Scott Haggett
HOUSTON/CALGARY | Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:37am EST

(Reuters) - Two major pipeline projects announced on Wednesday looked set to bring a surprisingly swift end to an unprecedented distortion in the U.S. oil market, unclogging a year-long bottleneck that has weighed heavily on Midwest crude prices.

After purchasing ConocoPhillips stake in the 350,000 barrel per day Seaway pipeline for $1.15 billion, Enbridge and new partner Enterprise Products Partners said they plan to reverse the line's flow to send crude locked up at the Cushing, Oklahoma oil hub to the Texas coast.

Separately, rival TransCanada said it could begin construction of a similar $600 million Cushing to Gulf Coast pipeline spur of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline early next year, pending consultations with the State Department, which last week postponed approval of the full-length Canada-to-Texas line to study a new route.

The companies are racing to unlock a glut of crude in the U.S. Midwest, which has built up over the year due to rising supplies from Canada and North Dakota. They aim to ship it to the Gulf Coast where it will fetch a hefty premium. Doing so will rob mid-continent refiners of cheap crude, but help producers achieve a higher price for their output.

Oil traders reacted swiftly to the news. U.S. crude surged by nearly $2 a barrel while Brent crude remained $1 lower -- narrowing the so-called Brent/WTI spread to below $10 a barrel for the first time since April.

The spread, rarely more than a few dollars in past years, surged this year due to ballooning inventories around the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for the U.S. oil contract and hit a record $28 a barrel in October.

Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners L.P. today announced that they have agreed to reverse the direction of crude oil flows on the Seaway pipeline to enable it to transport oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Pending regulatory approval, the line could operate in reversed service with an initial capacity of 150,000 barrels per day by second quarter 2012.

By the second quarter of 2012? And that is moving prices today? Anyway I fail to understand why it would ever move oil from the Gulf Coast to Cushing. Why would they move oil from a very high priced location to a much cheaper location. That would be like buying watermelons in Florida for $3 each, hauling them to Tennessee and selling them for $2 each.

Anyway I can understand why they decided to reverse the flow. What I can't understand is why they ever pumped in North in the first place.

Ron P.

Yet local gasoline prices keep on dropping. Last night they were down to $3.29 locally, while diesel is at a staggering $4.16...

What I can't understand is why they ever pumped in North in the first place.

Go back to the 1990's, Texas & Oklahoma oil production were continuing their long decline (down well over 50% from peaks in the 1970's), no new major sources of oil were under development in the area, and Midcontinent refined product demand & refinery capacity both exceeded capacity of remaining local crude production. Both refined products & crude pipelines were reversed from being export lines out of the Midcontinent, to become instead import lines from the Gulf Coast. Only in the last 18 months has the area gone back into crude oversupply, from 2 huge factors: completion of the Keystone Canadian pipeline route to Cushing in May 2010 bringing in several hundred thousand barrels a day of new supply, and also the continuing rapid growth of unconventional oil production from Bakken shale.

Not sure specifically on Seaway, but typically pipelines try to guarantee long-term commitments on delivery with several shippers, ensuring the pipeline operator a return on investment, and making reversals not contractually simple.

Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise Products Partners L.P. today announced that they have agreed to reverse the direction of crude oil flows on the Seaway pipeline to enable it to transport oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

That's very interesting. Conoco was resisting reversing the Seaway pipeline which used to bring oil from the Gulf Coast to the trading hub at Cushing, OK - presumably because their refineries were making too much money by blocking Canadian oil getting to the coast. However, Enbridge, one of the big Canadian pipeline companies, has bought out Conoco's interest for a cool $1.5 billion, and is going to reverse the pipeline to take oil from Cushing to the coast. It's all about money, and Conoco liked the size of the number on the check.

This, of course, is fallout from the Obama administration's decision to delay the TransCanada (another big Canadian pipeline company) Keystone XL pipeline until after the next election. There's a competition going on among Canadian pipeline companies to see who can be first to market with the most oil, and since Canada has the longest pipeline systems in the world, these are very big companies.

Canada is one of the few oil producing countries capable of increasing its oil production, and the traditional suppliers of imported oil to the Gulf Coast (Mexico and Venezuela) are in decline, so there's an awful lot of money to be made delivering Canadian oil there.

That is the same question I have asked myself several times and also a number of times in this forum. It just makes no economic sense to move oil from the coast to Cushing.

The only sense it seems to make is through market manipulation. It seems most likely that there must be those who benefit immensely on the comparatively low prices at Cushing. I do not know, but it is the only reason I can think of why oil is flowing from the coast to Cushing.

There's a lot of history behind this. Back prior to and during WWII the US produced half the world's oil and the price of WTI really did determine the world price. The US used to export oil from Cushing to the Gulf Coast and put it on tankers bound for the rest of the world.

However, after US production peaked in 1970, the tables turned and the US had to import more and more oil - eventually reaching 2/3 of total consumption. So, the pipelines were reversed and imported oil was delivered to Cushing, from whence it was delivered to the big refineries in the Midwest, where domestic production was failing to meet demand. In addition, new offshore oil from the Gulf of Mexico was delivered to Cushing and similarly distributed to US refineries further north.

However, things continued to change, and Canadian production from the oil sands steadily increased while other oil exporting countries such as Mexico and Venezuela had less and less oil to export. Mexico, in particular, had a huge drop in exports when its Cantarell field went into terminal decline due to overproduction. In addition there's been a big increase in production in North Dakota and a similar increase in Texas. More and more oil has been coming into Cushing from the north and west, and less and less from the south. The oil coming in from the north and west exceeds demand from mid-Continent and Mid-west refineries, hence the low price at Cushing. Meanwhile Gulf Coast refineries are stuck processing much higher price oil from offshore and the GOM.

So, that's how we got here, with cheap oil piling up in Cushing. Conoco was resisting reversing the Seaway pipeline, presumably because it wanted to stop its competition from getting access to cheap oil, but now it appears it is selling out to the Canadians. Enbridge, based in Calgary, is buying Conoco's 50% stake in the Seaway pipeline and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec is buying Conoco's 16.5% share of the Colonial pipeline. Money talks and big money talks loud.

Thank you RMG. Clear, concise, description of what happened.

Very good writeup. You should have a column on MW or some other financial board to set some of those clowns straight.

Oil price is up 20% over the last 6 weeks. What is that about?

"Oil Prices" aren't really increasing. It's just NYMEX WTI starting to come back into line with real world oil prices. Brent is currently $111.05

Brent 1 year

I think that the year to date average price for Brent, through October, is about $112, versus an average price of $97 for 2008.

From the Opec November report.

On a monthly basis, the OPEC Reference Basket declined in October, but not as
sharply as the previous drop in August, to average $106.29/b, corresponding to a decrease of $1.32, or 1.2%, from the previous month. Year-to-date, the OPEC
Reference Basket averaged $107.21/b, indicating that 2011 will likely set a new
record-high in yearly terms.

The basket was at $113 on 11/8.

I think WTI pricing has been out of whack on the low side due to storage issues and Brent has been out whack the other direction because Brent and Libyan are similar grades. Buzzard field toggling on and off isn't helping. In my opinion, neither price is informative with regards to the underlying trend.

You can apply whatever personal bias you wish to the OPEC report, but I've found it to be both informative and consistent in consolidating what others report.

The 365 day trailing average for Brent passed $100 dollars this week.

Brent Oil Price 365 Day Moving Average

Do not believe that it has been this high before, even in 2008. I find this chart gives a very good starting point for understanding the current economic crisis.

A trailing moving average is like a filter. However, it adds a phase delay, in this case, 6 months. What your average is telling you is that 6 months ago, the average price passed $100 a barrel. Of course, since then, the price has exhibited a bumpy plateau, in spite of what would appear to be worsening economic conditions...

E. Swanson

Wich is why I don't grok trailing moving average. The practice is lunatic. Make the average based on the -3 to +3 months. The 99.9+% of the world population who do not understand what a trailing moving average is will just be confused.

If trailing moving average was a chinese, they would have him shot and send the bill for the bullet to his family.

So tell us what the price will be for the next 3 months and we'll calculate the current moving average.

So tell us what the price will be for the next 3 months and we'll calculate the current moving average.

Oh please!

Any decent analysis package will allow you to calculate a moving average (aka running mean), will allow you to specify replacement values for missing data and will return NA for those points with insufficient data to calculate the average. If you really want to see a value for most current point in your times series then plot the trailing mean. When compared with the running mean (which will have NA for the last few points) this will give you some idea of past volatility.

I'm with Jedi. Presenting a lagged running mean is just plain confusing. Anyone working with this kind of data needs to invest the time in learning software that will do proper time series analysis (i.e. not MS Excel).


But that would mean admitting we don't know the current value of the moving average!

Sorry about the snark, but you've seen how many people react to the graphs that stop 3 or 6 months before the end of the data set. I understand the objection to the lagged average, but I also suspect I understand the temptation to use it.

A moving average might still be useful. Not, because it intrinsically measures something of value, but because you may have a lot of "technical" traders watching it and making trades based upon some system "when the moving average crosses X, buy!" or some other nonsense. If you get a good guess of what the "average" system is, that might give you some predictive capability.

Thats the problem. You can extrapolate by fitting the past data to some sort of curve. But, extrapolation does not work very well, unless you got a pretty good idea of how the time dynamic plays out. Mostly extrapolation takes past noise and amplifies it. So you get kinda stuck with no trusty methods.

Example, with production data for say a well, you might be able to reasonably be able to extrapolate depletion. But if you try to extrapolate something like the weather, noise is likely to make your predicition go wild.

You leave out the moving average for the first and last 3 months. If you have trailing moving average of 6 months, you still have the situation where you must leave out the TMA for the first 6 months. TMA don't solve the problem of not knowing what you got in the end segments.

The moving average smooths out the peaks and troughs and gives a far better overview of the costs being faced by businesses and individuals. I prefer this to the year to date average, used f.exp by West Texas earlier in the thread. That will vary from being based on only a few days at the start of the year up to a full year when it will coincide with the 365 day average.
When you say that 6 months ago the average price passed $100 - this does not mean a lot unless you specify over what period you are averaging. It absolutely is not what the current chart is showing.

What todays 365 day average is telling us is that this week, the average price for brent over the last twelve months was $100 dollars. Simple really - perhaps too simple for some.

I think you don't understand the math. Plotting your trailing average as presented does not tell you anything about the trend today. That's because the trailing moving average gives a value corresponding to the mid point in the averaging period, not the end. When you made your comment about the price passing $100 a barrel with a 365 day average, that value actually corresponds to a time 182 days ago and the curve says nothing about the current trend, which appears more like a plateau with variation around a mid point of roughly $110 a barrel. If someone in business were going to make a decision based on Brent price, I would think the $110 value would be the one to use, not the 6 month old value of $100 provided by the trailing average calculation...

E. Swanson

With respect,I think you have misunderstood the point I was making. I am fully aware that the trailing average does not give useful information about todays trend - I did not indicate that it did - and agree that making decisions based on this would not be sensible. Incidently, it says nothing whatsoever about the value 182 days ago but is an average of the entire 365 days.

Where it is useful, perhaps more so than a snapshot of todays oil price, is in what it does give, which is a cumulative picture of the price which business and individuals have been exposed to during the past twelve months. That is the costs which are now beinning to show up in company accounts, and why discretionary spending is being reduced. That figure has now reached an all time high (unadjusted for inflation) and is greater than that experienced in 2008, even though the actual oil price spiked considerably higher at that time.

When I said it does not give useful information about todays trends, that is not entirely true. While this value is on an upward trajectory (as it is), it is an indication that more trouble has being stored up, and will continue to give problems, even though the actual price has stabilised during the last few months.

All the trailing average is, is the moving average for the midpoint of the series.

Treat it as such and you get exactly the same value without any implicit claim of accuracy at the end of the series.

Sigh. If you had written: "The average price for Brent over the past year was $100 a barrel", I would not disagree. Instead, you presented a graphic of the daily price with the moving average plotted. That graph gives the viewer a much different impression than it would if the graph had shifted the moving average to the proper point in time, which is 182 days in the past. The fact is that the price for Brent was higher at that time, which is obvious when one looks at the 31 day moving average. Since that time, Brent prices have actually fallen slightly. The 31 day moving average would provide a much better visualization of the Brent market, even though the graph is obviously slightly delayed by 15 days. A 61 day moving average crossed $100 back in March...

These days, many businesses operate on a "just in time" inventory system, with accounting done frequently to monitor costs. Your moving average tells a business nothing, since the cost calculations were done months ago. Individuals, however, are easily confused by such, adding to the delusions rampant among the market prognosticators...

E. Swanson

Well I had an in depth reply typed up, but the browser boinked. The main take away is this.

Total inventories in the US (oil, SPR, gas, diesel, the works) is down 6% from last year according to the EIA reports.

Subtract another 8.7 million barrels today and my math, including SPR, shows a 105.3 million barrel drop in overall supply in one year.

http://ir.eia.gov/wpsr/wpsrsummary.pdf, last sentence of paragraph three, plus Look at the totals with or without SPR.

I did a little more math using the EIA historical spreadsheet.

Total Inventories have decreased 72.7 million barrels since the beginning of August. That averages -692tb/d for 15 weeks.

I was thinking maybe we were shipping fuel oil to Japan, but this really coincides with Libya.

The focus should be on supplies and not the WTI/Brent pricing disparity.

Rockman: What is the current quote on GOM oil/LA Sweet?

Interesting to see the spread vanishing; we are going to be lockstepped with the rest of the world, I guess. Of course, no one will hear about it in the correct framework. Just like climate change:

An episode of the BBC's Frozen Planet documentary series that looks at climate change has been scrapped in the U.S., where many are hostile to the idea of global warming.

If we don't like it, we will simply NOT hear about it!


zap - Closed just below $114 yesterday. Here's the link if you want to track it. Take a look: an odd 6 week cycle of sorts.


Asia/Pacific Tapis spot still way up there at $121.25 http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/quote?ticker=APCRTAPI:IND

Seems that the Japanese situation impacts there. Maybe that is why Canada is considering moving Keystone to the West Coast?


The La Sweet six week price cycle is the same as Brent. No idea why the cycle exists though; shipping and delivery periodicity perhaps?

Thanks to both. Will be patching the bloomberg site in to my regulars.

Indeed a strange week. Not unexpected, though. Eventually reality will have its way with us.


LLS tends to be a pretty good indication of the median global crude oil price.

Do increasing oil prices have anything to do with the financial problems in Europe?
Yes, No, Maybe?
Germany is not going to use nuclear power, so what will they use?
Wind, Water, Solar?
What will happen to all the nuclear waste from France?
Send it to Germany?
Who will be the next "Hitler"?
Who will be the next "Chruchill"?
Will Putin be the next "Stalin"?
The US does not have the means to save Europe this time......

Why of course we have the means to save Europe, Cool One.
Why do you think that one of the biggest purchasers of credit default swaps on all the bad sovereign debt held by European banks are American banks like J.P.Morgan?
It's so simple it's stupid. When all the European sovereign debt goes bad the U.S. banks will pay out the insurance claims on the CDSs, go bankrupt, and then the U.S. taxpayer will once again backstop the whole mess.

Just go get your popcorn and coke and find a comfy seat;-)

When all the European sovereign debt goes bad the U.S. banks will pay out the insurance claims on the CDSs, go bankrupt, and then the U.S. taxpayer will once again backstop the whole mess.

It may play out somewhat differently this time. Unlike 2008, the executive branch now has the authority to seize the big investment banks and resolve things in an orderly fashion. In 2008, the big banks could play chicken: taxpayer bailout or Chapter 11 and the financial system seizes up. This time there's another choice. If paying off the CDSs will bankrupt the big banks, the seizures could occur before the payout, in which case it's the French and German banks that are broke, and the French and German taxpayers on the hook.

I've said all along that all of the statements and threats and maneuvering are in order to determine which set of taxpayers get screwed. If the US government has to make a choice before the 2012 elections, I'll bet that they leave the French and Germans twisting in the wind.

Is the relationship between sovereign debt and the Euro the same as the USD? It sounds like there may be no way for some countries to 'prop up' the debt in question. Do the taxpayers in Europe all have to bail out the French banks? I wonder...

As far as US resolve, IMHO there is no way we wind up bailing out foreign banks. Maybe not even US banks this round. This thing could get very ugly very fast.

The timing is quite similar to the '07 to '08 situation. Oil on the way up; Cramer telling us how great everything is... what could possibly go wrong?


Is the relationship between sovereign debt and the Euro the same as the USD? It sounds like there may be no way for some countries to 'prop up' the debt in question. Do the taxpayers in Europe all have to bail out the French banks? I wonder...

This is one of those situations absolutely made for the expression "it's complicated...". I'm certainly no expert, but there are significant differences between how the Euro is managed and how the USD is. There is no entity in Europe that fills the role of "lender of last resort" provided by the Federal Reserve system in the US. Thus there's no way for a French bank to dump bad debt (like Greek bonds) into some Europe-wide entity. Well, there's the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), but that's an incredible morass that may or may not be able to do any good (Krugman seems to think not). The short answer is that it would largely be up to the French taxpayers to bail out the French banks, German taxpayers to bail out German banks, etc.

According to Ron Paul, US banks have $3 trillion in exposure to French and German debt. I posted something on it yesterday. Global finance is essentially insolvent and just waiting for a a vital support to fail somewhere, anywhere. If vast sums aren't printed up it will collapse and if vast sums are printed up it will collapse. I think both options will be taken.

I think both options will be taken.

Can't say I disagree. US will first take the predictable, political route and do nothing, each party blaming the other for that. Then, when the consequences become obvious, they will take door # 2, creating a simultaneous deflationary depression and hyper inflation as unemployment rises (if you think OWS is big today, watch what happens when the official rate exceeds 25%), as money becomes cheap (valueless?) while at the same time no one has any.

Only then, at the end, will they realize the true power of the dark side (of money).


...if you think OWS is big today, watch what happens when the official rate exceeds 25%

Actually, I don't think OWS is all that big or even durable. It's going down with a whimper - not a bang. Revolutions usually accompany rising expectations, not the reverse.

If the official rate reaches 25%, survival mode will kick in. Modern protest movements tend to be middle class phenomenon. Cut into the middle class you're left with something different. Competitors for jobs and food stamps won't much care or stand in sympathy. Anything resembling the jobless marches of the 1930s will be ruthlessly silenced in the name of public order.

Play it again, Sam. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Anything resembling the jobless marches of the 1930s will be ruthlessly silenced in the name of public order.

It depends on how many of the newly unemployed are NRA members, and gun owners. Also, like the '30s we can expect that many, or most, of the unemployed will be supported by the still employed. In fact, that is an unstated fact of life today as more and more parents find themselves the sole support of their children and grandchildren, either by virtue of having jobs or sufficient retirement income to do so. And, in many cases, where there were two employed people there is no only one... and the other is able to 'take part.'

I don't think that your comment about today's marches being ruthlessly silenced is valid. Remember, in both Wisconsin and in Ohio, part of the 'revolution' was political, and supported in large measure by the very police who would be called upon to 'silence' those who supported them. Don't know how good an idea it is for the PTB in City Hall to call for that particular repression.

OTOH, a Blackwater type group might be hired for that purpose, in which case the police would be on the marchers' side. At least that is my take.

I think the part that is missing for most of us is an understanding of what is powering the unrest in MENA, and elsewhere, where growing numbers of unemployed young people are forming most of the opposition to the goverments there. Without having that experience, we do not know what we will do. I am sure that in the 20's the popular view was that there would be no marches in their future either, eh?

Best hopes for a whimpering revolution.


Craig, I by and large agree.

Point of clarity here. I'm not saying today's marches are being "ruthlessly silenced". At least in the US and much of the West, they are being steadfastly ignored and put to rest by urban bylaws in the name of "health and safety." Marches will be "ruthlessly silenced" if and when they are in response to 25% or more official unemployment. That will come as a result of a considerable further downsizing of economic activity and "upsizing" of personal hardship.

Not coming from the US it is hard for me to gauge the impact of the NRA on American civil strife. Yes, I'm hoping for your sake, it is a whimpering agitation.

MENA is undergoing unrest as it works out its own internal political and economic contradictions. I suspect this is symptomatic of changing geopolitical power relationships as much as anything else. It is clear that since the Iraq debacle, the US is unlikely to intervene directly in middle eastern affairs anymore. IMHO, the lack of big brother has created a sizable vacuum and an opportunity for change. Amid the shifting sands, what we are witnessing is the jockeying of positions for domestic security and regional influence. Surges of testosterone, as you rightly point out, are also contributing to the restlessness on the ground. How this will turn out is anybody's guess.

If the official rate reaches 25%, survival mode will kick in.

John Robb has been worrying about that to:

A Very BAD Trend. US Combat Vet Unemployment hits 30%

* Lots of these guys are combat vets. They are typically the least employable given their training.

* There are many more yet to come. Hundreds of thousands have yet to be laid off. Big defense cuts are coming as the budget continues to gush red ink.

* Unemployment is going to get much worse in the next couple of years.

He basically believes these guys are going to put their training to work in ways that may not be beneficial to the existing social/economic order.

... up to the French taxpayers to bail out the French banks, German taxpayers to bail out German banks, etc.

Except by the time they do, respective taxpayers will be on the hook for the outstanding sovereignty haircuts from other places - all acting as a multiplier on the final tally.

Europe has pinned its future on economic growth and political centralization. Neither is probable.

Germany is not going to use nuclear power, so what will they use?

Lots and lots of Russian natural gas. The first phase of the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany started operation this month. Russian officials have made noises about increased production to meet German needs. Single-cycle gas turbine generators can be built in weeks/months. Adding combined-cycle boilers to increase the efficiency can come later. If they're clever, they can reuse much of the non-reactor infrastructure. An example of the latter is the Fort St. Vrain generating station in Colorado: the exhaust gas from multiple NG-fueled turbines fire a boiler, and the resulting steam drives the steam turbine and generator that was used originally with the (now decommissioned) nuclear reactor.

While it's interesting to see where Germany goes with their Nuclear Statements, it is, for me still a matter of worrying about the Mote in THEIR Eye, and doing absolutely bubkus about the Telephone Pole sticking into the US's and UK's Lying Eyes..

AND, when the Russian's control all of Germany's power?
When the Russian natural gas runs out??? Then what?

My perception is that right now, the German government is struggling with the issue of keeping the lights on and the factories running reliably for the next ten years, and hasn't looked any farther than that. With tongue only mildly in cheek, I suppose that at some point Scandinavian hydro and wind power flows to Germany. At gunpoint if necessary, and if you have a Michael Klare sort of view.

On days when I'm feeling depressed, I speculate that areas with relatively small populations compared to their energy resources -- both remaining fossil fuels and renewables -- will, if they're lucky, get to decide whose energy colony they're going to be. But they won't get to choose to not be an energy colony.

But they won't get to choose to not be an energy colony.

I understand Germany has little in the way of its own FFs, but why so certain about this? They could still go the French route and build nukes (despite being so politically unpopular now due to Fukushima disaster), or ramp up renewables, or both.

Do you have any references on "the German government is struggling with the issue of keeping the lights on and the factories running reliably"?

If I am not mistaken, Germany still has one of the most reliable electricity grids in the world with very low probability of power outages. Also 20% of electricity now comes from domestic renewable energies, another ~20% of electricity comes from domestic lignite. It is well connected into the wider European power grid. It continues to rapidly build out its renewable energy production. There are also a considerable number of new (fossil fuel) power plants under construction and Germany still has an over capacity of generating source as could be seen by its ability to take offline nearly 50% of its nuclear generating capacity over night without any troubles. It has a reasonable sized gas storage system to buffer supply disruptions and efficiency gains both in electricity and building heating standards are helping to reduce energy requirements.

By the time Russian gas runs out, the majority of energy will come from renewable sources.

Even though presumably energy costs will continue to go up, I would think Germany is still in a comparatively comfortable situation.

By the time Russian gas runs out, the majority of energy will come from renewable sources.

You mean wind and PV? Then they need to store it.

You are not mistaken. Many of the readers here are from the USA and perhaps don't realize how unreliable their electric grid is. Just the other day there was a discussion on the use of domestic backup generators, a concept that just does not compute in the mind of a western European electricity user.

I had some trouble finding good data on the topic, but I found some stuff here:

From the last one:

The average U.S. customer loses power for 214 minutes per year. That compares to 70 in the United Kingdom, 53 in France, 29 in the Netherlands, 6 in Japan, and 2 minutes per year in Singapore. These outage durations tell only part of the story. In Japan, the average customer loses power once every 20 years. In the United States, it is once every 9 months, excluding hurricanes and other strong storms.

Notice the terrible reliably in the US, even when storms are excluded.

From the statistics in the second link, Germany's grid is somewhere between those of France and the Netherlands, which a service interruption about once every 4 years and unavailability of about 37 minutes/year. In my experience in the US, there is a service interruption, (maybe just a few seconds, but sometimes longer) about once per month in urban areas, i.e.,roughly 50 times more often than in Germany.

Holy cow. I had no idea.

Then again, something like 70% of sub-saharan africa does not have any electricity. Places like Pakistan and Nepal have daily blackouts (up to 18 hours long in Pakistan). I live in a place where there are month long periods where three are two or three blackouts lasting 2-4 hours each week.

I think that as long as hospitals have back-up for life-or-death functions, businesses in the food industry know to keep the fridge door shut, and drivers have the common sense to be careful in intersections, society can get along just fine with occasional blackouts. Last time I checked humans didn't run on electricity.

In my experience the fluctuations in electricity that happen when the grid is stressed are much worse than complete power outs. Even with (voltage surge?) protectors a lot of appliances seem to get damaged.

I've lived in third world countries, in places where daily blackouts were common, and even where there was no electricity (unless you owned a generator). You get used to it if it's not a surprise.

But it never occurred to me that the U.S. grid was that unreliable compared to Japan and Europe. Though I guess it should have. I've certainly noticed that Japanese products have far better quality control than US ones.

The japanese invented the quality.

The Japanese APPLIED the quality knowledge taught them by an Amarican (W. Edwards Deming)who was ignored in his homeland.


I guess the Futurama reference to "the inventor of the enviornment" was missed :c)

I have written about how bad the situation is with respect to the US electric grid several times, most recently in August 2010:

The US Electric Grid: Will it be Our Undoing? - Revisited

There are very basic issues that make it hard to keep up the US grid. The grid was not made for long-distance transportation of electricity, and we are trying to do something that the grid was not designed to do, without rebuilding it for that purpose. There are many competing carriers using the grid, and the cost of every upgrade must be shared in some way among many users--something that must be decided each time around. Profitability considerations mean that companies want to spend as little as possible on grid maintenance, especially if they are just paying a percent charge of costs for a local upgrade.

It seems to me that we need someone clearly in charge of the grid, similar to the Federal Highway Commission. We also need a way of paying for upgrades and maintenance, that will charge long distance users for the real costs involved. If we don't do this, it will just go downhill further. This is one reason I am not hopeful for much expansion of wind/solar. We won't be able to work out the grid issues.

While I agree that deregulation is placing unwarranted stresses on the reliability of the transmission system, this increases the (small) risk of cascading widespread outages, not the regularly recurring small scale outages which occur at the distribution level and comprise the majority of total customer outages and customer interruption time.

Incidentally, you may want to consider the 1 every 9 months average outage occurrence cited in view of your once-a-week comments in previous posts. Note, at a guess, the cited average is probably for 'sustained' outages of more than 5 minutes.

Actually I think the US grid is more than reliable enough for 99% of users. [Maybe I'm just a glass half full kinda guy]. Would the investment if reaching EU of Japanese levels be worth it? Maybe its more cost effective for the critical applications to have their own backup.

I've lost power for 4+ hours the past 2 years and have lost it before that for shorter periods. Always in the summer during tstorms.

I have worked at gas plants that would disconnect from the grid during the summer lightning storm season and run on their own generators until the lightning season was over. It could cost $100,000 to restart a big plant after an outage, so they couldn't afford to lose their power supply.

It got to the point where some of them could negotiate a negative price for power (i.e. the electric utility would pay them), in return for which the gas plant agreed to fire up its generators and dump power into the grid if the utility had a power plant outage. The gas plant would shut down its operations and run the pipelines on line pack (the natural gas already in the line) until the utility got its power plants back up. The gas plants had the advantage that they could run their delivery system on line pack for several days if they had to, whereas a power plant outage becomes obvious in a matter of milliseconds.

And actually, every old gas plant I used to work at seems to have a brand new natural gas power plant sitting right next to it these days. These are peaking units, they can come on-line in a matter of minutes when they need to.

The average U.S. customer loses power for 214 minutes per year. That compares to 70 in the United Kingdom, 53 in France, 29 in the Netherlands, 6 in Japan, and 2 minutes per year in Singapore. These outage durations tell only part of the story. In Japan, the average customer loses power once every 20 years. In the United States, it is once every 9 months, excluding hurricanes and other strong storms.

Notice the terrible reliably in the US, even when storms are excluded.

Yes if you compare US outages to the top 4 (I presume because the quoted article provides no source for these statistics), 214 minutes of annual average downtime looks 'terribly unreliable'. Why not compare the US outages to the bottom 4 countries, from the second link?

# 1 Bangladesh: 248.96 days
# 2 Albania: 194.23 days
# 3 Lebanon: 188.58 days
# 4 Congo, Democratic Republic of the: 184.04 days

The US power grid looks incredibly reliable now!

From the statistics in the second link, Germany's grid is somewhere between those of France and the Netherlands, which a service interruption about once every 4 years and unavailability of about 37 minutes/year. In my experience in the US, there is a service interruption, (maybe just a few seconds, but sometimes longer) about once per month in urban areas, i.e.,roughly 50 times more often than in Germany.

Your second link ranks Germany #91 with .23 days of downtime. US, Japan, Great Britain, Singapore, and Netherlands all have less downtime since they don't make the list.

My power has been out 181 hours in the last 10 years. If you exclude storms that number drops to 4.

Your experience is atypical nationally.

Also, by 'storms' the caveat means a defined level of catastrophe which results in outages greater than X. This is a minor fraction of total customer outages and outage time nationally.

I think it is more representative of national average than the 214 minutes per year quoted above.

My power company claims customers have service reliability %99.98 of the time. That works out to about 100 minutes per year, and that does include storm related outages.

I just don't buy that 214 minutes of outage per year in the US.

The US is not homogeneous with respect to most things, power reliability being a major one.

I meant that the 181 hours was atypically high. I have plenty of customers who haven't had an outage in the past 10 years. About half my customers don't have an outage in a given year, and it isn't randomly distributed. The power company I work for averages about an hour per year per customer and about 2.5 outages per year per customer (we're both denser than the U.S. average, and have better weather). That's an average of a bunch of 30 second momentary outages and a few 10 hour ones (permanent failure of a system element with no backup). For most sustained outages we have someone on the scene in 30 minutes. Outages (for a few people) of over 24 hours are confined to major storms where limited personnel resources start playing a role, and we triage by number of customers affected until we get down to the problems where physical repairs are required to restore one customer. We go to full mobilization (field personnel on mandatory 16hrs on, 8 off (used to be 32 on 8 off until a year or two back) for the duration) when more than 0.1% of customers are out at a given time in a concentrated area and outages are lasting more than 4 hours or when it can be foreseen that this will occur.

Greeeat. So we only look good when compared to Bangladesh, Albania and Congo! What a relief. And here I was thinking that we were sinking into third world status.

No, my point was compared to the countries that have the 4 best uptimes, it makes us look unreliable, but isn't that a statistical trick? Isn't it arbitrary to compare us to the top 4? Why not compare us to the bottom 4 instead? Besides, Singapore has the most reliable grid. Bully for the country that has 5 million people living in an area that's a fraction of the size of Rhode Island!

Long term, we may be screwed as Gail postulates, but we could be far worse off today than we are. We are still a long ways from having anything but first world problems like having a bunch of meat in the freezer spoil because a hurricane took the power offline for a few days. Sometimes listening to people complain about the grid here, you would think we lived in Baghdad.

"In Japan, the average customer loses power once every 20 years. "

That average ended last March.

Power here is pretty reliable most of the time, though last month was a notable exception for reasons still not explained.

Wired phone service now, that has issues. And the hill blocks the cell phone coverage. Internet phone would work, unless the power goes out, and then, well, you have nothing. Except smoke signals, which would be mostly blocked by the same hill, unless the fire was really big. But then you can't modulate the signal very well. So you see the problem.

During the Great Blackout of 2003, people who had landlines could still use their phones. Cell phone users were out of luck, because the towers need electricity.

My fiber optic internet/phone line has a battery backup that they promised me would last for eight hours, but so far I haven't had occasion to test it.

Who are you guys calling? Power goes out, its time to grab a few books, maybe a bottle of Jack Daniels and do a little reading.

Power goes out, its time to grab a few books, maybe a bottle of Jack Daniels and do a little reading.

Especially if you have a little solar generator with a battery backup, a couple of LED lights, small DC fridge, and you can charge your cellphone and laptop on it as well... Who needs to worry about the darn grid?

Internet phone would work

Not when it is ADSL ;)

At New Years our cell network clogs up but the landlines still work.

Retreat to the back step and get mogged by the fur heads - chill time.


How does cost per kwh compare? How about line-miles per customer?

Many of the readers here are from the USA and perhaps don't realize how unreliable their electric grid is.

biophiliac, although the grid is not perfect, it is very reliable at 99+%. It can be made more reliable if people want to pay more, but for the majority of people they would prefer to keep the costs of the electricity lower.

Exactly. If your loads are so important that you need better reliability, then there are cheaper societal options than fixing the grid to much higher levels of reliability. It's like you have a hole in your roof and you want your neighbors (ratepayers) to pay for weather control.

There are of course areas of the U.S. which need dramatic improvement to bring performance up nearer the average, and inexpensive solutions which would improve the average, but we don't need better than 4-9's average grid reliability.

How would it ever be ALL of Germany's Power?

They might not have 'enough' of the alternatives in and coming in, but they've at least made a solid push in that direction already, giving them at least a bit of buffer.. How much buffer does Russia have if its own supplies go kerplunk for some reason? Think they'll be making offers for Danish Wind KiloWatts? (I have to Imagine that Russia has been putting in wind as well.. but the point is that Germany has certainly been making investments in other eggbaskets.

'Vulnerable' is relative, not absolute- like so many of the issues we discuss.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending November 11, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.7 million barrels per day during the week ending November 11, 344 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.8 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged just under 8.6 million barrels per day last week, down by 53 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged about 8.9 million barrels per day, 379 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 762 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 82 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 1.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 337.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.1 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.6 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 8.7 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 19.2 million barrels per day, down by 0.4 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.6 million barrels per day, down by 5.7 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged nearly 4.3 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 5.1 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 5.3 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Just saw a chart showing combined commercial crude oil stocks in three major OECD markets. They were at about 770 mb a year ago, and we are at about 690 mb now, at five year lows (after a sizable release from emergency stocks). And US East Coast crude oil inventories continue to be at five year lows; I wouldn't be surprised if they are flirting with MOL's (Minimum Operating Levels).

Absent an immediate decline in demand (which is certainly possible), I continue to think that it is unlikely that we will get through the Northern Hemisphere winter without another release of oil from emergency stocks.

Absent an immediate decline in demand (which is certainly possible), I continue to think that it is unlikely that we will get through the Northern Hemisphere winter without another release of oil from emergency stocks.

OK, I will bite. Why won't they buy the oil in the open market? I understand it will cause the price to go up, but isn't that better than depleting the SPR? Who makes the decision (whether to buy or use oil from the SPR), anyway? The oil companies or the government?

It depends on your underlying premise. If we aren't going to peak for decades, then withdrawing oil from emergency reserves makes some sense, in order to address a temporary supply/demand imbalance. The current officers on the bridge of the Titanic seem to hold this point of view (that we might peak, or hit a plateau, some time around mid-century).

On the other hand, some of us have noticed that the supply of exported oil available to importers other than China & India has been dropping at an average rate of about one mbpd per year since 2005.

The SPR is owned by the federal government, but various member countries in the OECD can and do coordinate releases from emergency reserves.

WT, thanks for the interesting information on inventories outside the US.

If the likely course of action is to periodically release SPR stocks to smooth supply disruptions (with the presumption that refilling is feasible), aren't salt dome storage filling / discharging cycle limitations going to be an issue rather quickly?

There is a slim chance that the US will get through the winter without resorting to some type of oil or oil product policy decision – more specifically that would probably be another release of oil from the SPR. While Libya is making a great effort to increase oil exports, by the time any increase in OPEC supplies reaches the US we will be mostly through the worst weather of the winter months.

Then there is the additional problem of falling diesel supplies:

As the recent sustained diesel shortage in the upper Midwest states clearly shows, diesel supplies in the US are precariously low. The problem is being somewhat alleviated by shifting supplies from other parts of the country, mostly from the Gulf of Mexico coast area northbound through the pipeline system. Those supplies may reach the areas with the greatest shortages in a little less than two weeks.

But after that, diesel problems remain. Exports out of the US to Latin America – especially Brazil – have increased considerably in 2011. Meanwhile Russia has been hesitant to return its diesel exports to the levels of early 2011 due to fears of a possible internal shortage.

Russia has been stockpiling diesel amid worries of a domestic fuel shortage and has cut exports this month. In December the export duty on diesel and fuel oil will increase to $268.30 a tonne from $259.30 in November.

"Exporters are reluctant to ship high volumes of deficit fuels abroad, due to local shortages," said a trader.


Charles - From your perch what's the problem: oil supplies or refinery output? Have I missed a report that any refinery hasn't been able to buy all the crude it wanted? I got the impression from your reports that the refineries haven't kept their inventories up for whatever reason.

When the oil markets are in backwardation (they assumed this position recently), the refineries prefer to hold-off on their purchases causing inventories to fall. I have heard that before (pup55 and others) and it makes sense to me. When the refineries need oil, they will buy it.

One reason is that there are more refinery operational problems in Midwest than expected, but after I made my earlier post, an important upper Midwest refiner came back on line.

However there is a more complex problem evolving. Although US refiners are a little flexible as to adjusting the level of gasoline vs. diesel, to put it simply it can't easily be adjusted that much. The recent fall in gasoline demand at the same time as diesel demand increases then creates a perplexing problem. Falling profit margin on gasoline may not be enough to offset the rising profit margin on diesel. Therefore, as otherwise stated above, refiners might want to see more of an overall profit margin before stepping up production.


So American gasoline drivers are getting a price break, because diesel and heating oil are in high demand and gasoline is made from the same barrel of oil. Sometimes you get lucky with unintended consequences. So, my heating oil is through the roof, because I am competing with world markets for diesel, and gasoline is the cheap byproduct. Since I live in New England and work from home, my simple calculation says this sucks. I should go back to commuting from the Woodlands to Houston (~30 miles). It would be cheaper. I think all this talk of saving fuel on a few miles per gallon neglect the heating fuel too much.

Well, as I've said many times here, anybody who is using heating oil needs to transition to some other form of heating ASAP, and 10 years ago was a good time to make the change. Anybody who wants to change now probably doesn't have the money to do it.

As far as the diesel shortage goes, the fleet owners really should convert their trucks over to natural gas. NG is trading for 1/5 the price of oil on an energy equivalence basis. Again the problem is money, or more accurately the money to build the infrastructure to supply all those trucks rolling down the highway. It costs a few thousand dollars to convert a diesel engine to dual fuel (natural gas + diesel) but that's cost-effective considering the amount of fuel the big trucks use.

The companies that are going to do extremely well out of this are the railroads, and some of the richest people in the world are going to be even richer - I'm thinking of Warren Buffett who owns BNSF and Bill Gates who is the largest shareholder in CN. Railroads get about 450 ton-miles per gallon of diesel which trucks can't hope to match.

Even at that, the railroads are probably wishing they had converted their main lines to electricity some years ago. They could still do it, but they would probably need some government subsidies to motivate them. The politicians, however, would more likely prefer to subsidize the trucking industry, which of course is backing the wrong horse in this race.

And, of course, they would prefer to subsidize people's consumption of heating oil rather than pay them to convert their heating systems to NG. Even expediting the expansion of the NG distribution system to reach all homes is a huge conceptual leap for them.

Thanks guys. So essentially those oil patch bastards are running operations to maximize their profits. So Unamerican...ought to hang them all. Except Rockman, of course. He would never do such a thing.

Maximize profits? OMG!!! What a strange concept.

I think many of us recognize that the need to maximize profits on the part of corporations (that is all they can do, after all, and they are under a legal duty to so do) will force them to avoid change, or limiting emissions, or paying a fair wage, if any of these things could in any way be seen as contrary to the interest of the shareholders. See Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, 204 Mich. 459, 170 N.W. 668. (Mich. 1919). However, some argue the contrary, see Why We Should Stop Teaching Dodge v. Ford by Lynn A. Stout, at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1013744

What truly matters is that corporations do work to maximize this quarter's report, and this year's profits - even Rockman, despite his disclaimer - ;>). And they do socialize their costs as much as they are allowed to do, which is why the big deal about deregulation. And their officers and directors would lose their jobs if they didn't do that.

So, what do we do to change things? Other than wait for nature to take its course, that is? Or can we do anything BUT wait for Ma Nature? She's a Bitch, you know.


My employer is in administration. There are two potential buyers bidding to bail us out. One is a major competitor, who will asset strip our customers, and our good name, shut our office and make the workforce redundant. The other is a former CEO of the organisation, a successful businesswoman who was voted out of her role previously by the then board. She will put her own money in and re-invest in the business. The administrators will sell to the highest bidder.

The market can also be a bitch sometimes...

I think many of us recognize that the need to maximize profits on the part of corporations (that is all they can do, after all, and they are under a legal duty to so do) will force them to avoid change, or limiting emissions, or paying a fair wage, if any of these things could in any way be seen as contrary to the interest of the shareholders.

Yes, that may be true, however, in my view that's akin to recognizing that the engineer's job is to keep driving the train full speed ahead because the passengers expect the train to get them to their destination on time.

The only problem is the engineer and the passengers have been warned that the bridge up ahead has been washed out...

Yet everyone continues to ignore the warning! So the engineer must do his job, and drive the train into the gully at full speed, taking all the passengers with him, even those few passenger that might want to get off the train.

Full speed ahead... yeah, strange concept indeed! Of course the cornucopians are sure the bridge will be rebuilt before the train gets to it. Lucky those, that aren't on the train, at least they can enjoy the doppler effect.

"I love hearing that lonesome wail of the train whistle
as the magnitude of the frequency of the wave changes due
to the Doppler effect."


So the engineer must do his job, and drive the train into the gully at full speed, taking all the passengers with him


It is obvious that you are untrained in the scientific fundamentals and truths of economics.

The Invisible Hand WILL build the bridge.
The Market will provide, always has.
(Caveat: It will provide as long as we wish hard enough and worship the money symbol with true and deep faith devotion)

/end sarcasm

Link up top: IEA Says Conventional Oil Has Peaked: $1.5 Trillion Per Year Needed to Combat Peak Oil

They are predicting "all liquids" production to be 99 million barrels per day in 2035. That is down from about 120 mb/d just a few years ago, if my memory serves me correct. Anyway that is only 10 million barrels per day more than we are producing today according to the IEA's latest Highlights of the latest OMR. But guess where that 10 mb/d is coming from:

    Natural gas liquids – 18 mb/d (current NGL production is 8 mb/d.)

    Unconventional sources – 10 mb/d (current unconventional production is 5 mb/d)

    Biofuels – 4 mb/d (current biofuel production is just over 1 mb/d)

So do the math. What does this say conventional production will be in 2035.

Anyway this article is highly critical of even these projections, saying this is twice as fast as these liquids have ever grown in the past.

Ron P.

From the same article:

"Production of conventional crude oil — the largest single component of oil supply — remains at current levels before declining slightly to around 68 mb/d by 2035."

Have they ever stated that we are at peak conventional oil so bluntly?

That seems like a pretty modest decline rate. Is it remotely realistic?

Advanced biofuels, chemicals capacity to reach 5.11B gallons by 2015

"global advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals capacity will reach 5.11 billion gallons by 2015, up from 4.37 billion reported in May, and 3.95 billion gallons reported in January, based on company announcements to date."

The above numbers are quoted for 2015 hitting the 4+ mb/d much earlier than your 2035 estimate. What are your thoughts on these predictions considering we are currently just over 1mb/d?

I'm young, naive, and fairly new to the peak oil movement. I am trying to get my feet planted in realistic numbers, maybe the 5.11billion gallons are nonsense?


There are 42 gallons to a barrel. Something to think about.

So attention to detail and units is important? Ill remember that next time i jump to writing a post. My apologies.

So they are claiming .333 mb/d by 2015. With this being off by so much from IEA's numbers, what does the IEA qualify as Biofuels?

The article you linked to is for advanced biofuels. This is a subset of all biofuels and does not include corn or sugar-based ethanol.

According to US DEBT ClOCK.org, today the National debt crossed the $15 trillion level. In 2000,on this date, the National debt totaled $5,675 trillion. At the present rate, the National debt will be $23.5 trillion in 2015,but the CBO estimates $17.6 trillion by 2015. My WAG is somewhere between. At the same time, the percentage of total government spending to GDP has increase from around 32% in 2000 to 46.5% today. This percentage is expected to rise further by 2015. The lesson is that without the increase in governmental spending, stocks would be lower, and unemployment higher. But rich people have benefited greatly, while the middle class has suffered and the rest have not benefited. Economists have failed us, Supply side advocates and Keynesian thinkers alike only get us further in debt. New thinking by our economists must include a way to reduce debt as increasing debt does not help. In fact it now takes $6 to $10 of debt to get $1 of GDP growth.
We should not throw stones at Europe where austerity measures by unity governments promise a way out in 3-5 years. LOL here. High oil prices also have to be accounted for.

The Super committee of the Congress is meeting to cut spending by 1 trillion dollars (1000billion) spread over the next ten years, this is 100 billion dollars per year. In the current budget the government expenditures are 3,729 billion dollars or slightly more than 100 billion dollars a day. The Super Committee must reduce spending by the equivalent of 1 day a year for the next ten years. Deficit this year is 1,101 billion. As you can see even if the Committee met its’ objective the U.S. would still need to borrow a further 1,000 billion a year without any increase in spending. At the current rate of borrowing we are on track to borrow $11,000 billion to add to our current $15,000 billion debt in the next ten years. U.S. GDP is $14,000 billion a year, debt over 60 per cent of GDP is considered unsustainable by the IMF In case all the numbers have not made your eyes glaze over, here are a few more.. Total government receipts taxes and fees are 2,627 billion dollars. Spending on budget for military 750 billion (wars not included) Homeland Security 59 billion, interest on National Debt 454 billion, Medicare 428 billion Social Security 728 billion leaving 208 billion to fund the remainder of government.Military, Homeland Security, Medicare and Social Security are off the table.

I think you slipped a decimal. 3,729 billion dollars a year is about $10 a day, not $100. So, the Super Committee was supposed to "save" $1,200 over 10 years, or $120 billion a year. Still, that works out to about 2 weeks of Federal spending at this year's rate. The Government could simply shut down for the last 2 weeks in December, when they don't get much done anyway...

E. Swanson

You're not making the right comparison.

The Super Committee must make proposals to reduce the deficit by $1.2T over ten years as scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The scoring has to be done in the standard fashion, which assumes that current statutes will not be changed. The baseline that the Committee is working against includes reversal of the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2012, no further inflation adjustments to the Alternate Minimum Tax, no changes to the scheduled reductions in Medicare payments to doctors, military spending at the current on-budget level, no repeat of TARP spending, expiration of emergency unemployment extensions, etc.

In short, the Committee has to make proposals to reduce the deficit by a cumulative $1.2T compared to a baseline that already has much higher revenue and significantly lower spending than the current budget. If you want to make the comparison against this year's numbers, the Committee is looking for about $1.0T in 2021, not $120B.

There are only three big items military, health and social security. Of course social security is "off budget" and will never be touched. LOL Social security has its own tax revenue and is self funding. Oh but they did just cut the payroll tax so social security would not be fully funded and so subject to cutting.

And let's not forget that military spending is sacrosanct --especially those multi-billion dollar boondoggles like SDI, Crusader, FCS, Comanche, nPOESS, EFV, etc., our 900 military bases in 130 countries, and (especially) those no-bid military contracts going to K-Street connected companies. If you believe that *any* military funding should be cut, then clearly you hate our Freedom and want the terrorists to win.

You are either with us or against us.

I guess it comes down to the definition of the word us. ;)

Panetta has been running around shouting that our very national existence is at risk if we make ANY defense cuts. Here's some suggestions that I aver will save billions and not put us at any risk at all:

-Remove all military personnel from Europe. There are still 55,000 US military in Germany alone. There were only 200,000 or so in the 1960s when the Russians were on the verge on killin us all (they weren't?);>)
-Bring home all 40,000 troops in Japan. What are they doing there?
-Retire the 29,000 troops in Korea. I really don't care if the family feud gets nasty.
-Fire the 10,000 troops in England. Are we trying to save their way of life, driving on the wrong side of the road?
-Retire the 21,000 in Alaska. Just the cost of heating the barracks is more than its worth.
-Dry dock about half of the nuclear attack submarines. That will still leave about 30 of them running around looking for something to do.
-Park two of the 12 aircraft carrier task forces. Carriers are only good for threatening small countries anyhoo.
-Fire half the generals. We have more now than we had during WW2.

-Bring home all 40,000 troops in Japan. What are they doing there?
-Retire the 29,000 troops in Korea. I really don't care if the family feud gets nasty.

I guess one of the major reasons is to provide South Korea and Japan with a trip wire guaranteeing a US nuclear weapons response if someone attacks South Korea or Japan with nuclear weapons. If US withdraws it gets fairly likely that both South Korea and Japan builds their own nuclear detterance against North Korea and China. 

Pax americana probably gives a no proliferation benefit.

...our 900 military bases in 130 countries...

That's why I smile when people say America is not an imperial power. What then is it?

The collapse of the Soviet Union didn't necessarily mean all of the communist critique of capitalism was wrong. Likewise, just because Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld blundered the agenda so badly, doesn't mean the neo-conservatives were entirely wrong either.

America's wealth is dependent on the strength of the Pax Americana. The world is (and has been) a relatively peaceful place for the better part of a generation. Almost half the world's military expenditure is through a country with a mere 5% of global population. How can this be? Other empires in world history have demanded tribute. How does the U.S. receive tribute?

One phrase, 'the almighty dollar'. It is the world's means of exchange. Up until 2008, it was safe as gold. It was considered hard currency; in fact, in many respects the only hard currency. Since all countries banked U.S.$ to facilitate exports and imports, all countries bankrolled the U.S. consumer market. In return, the U.S. provided protection against political uncertainty. Peace, in turn, facilitated global trade, which in turn, promoted the purchase of U.S. dollars. That's the way it worked for 20 years - ever since the end of the cold war.

It was not a classic, "either/or"... "guns or butter" ...dichotomy. It was an "and/both". Butter oiled the guns and guns buttered the bread.

IMHO, what we are witnessing now is the same phenomenon, except in reverse. As world trade constricts and there is a diminishing of globalization there will be less demand for US dollars. The tribute stream is drying up. Fewer US dollars means a smaller US domestic consumer market. Ergo, the US will be less able to provide the stick for global security.

China picked up the slack somewhat over the past three years by being the engine of growth for the global economy. However, b/c of resource constraints and overcapacity, it too seems to be experiencing the same economic drag as everybody else.

I suspect we are going to see some major structural (systemic) changes as the Great Recession moves into phase II.

Obama has just announced a new base in Australia, to host 25,000.

I thought Australia was part of the British Empire. They still salute good Queen Bess !

They still salute good Queen Bess !

Play a few bars. No one will know the difference between 'God save the Queen' and 'My country, 'tis of Thee'.

Someone on The Automatic Earth had the creepy comment re: the new US bases etc. in Australia that one has to look behind the official "reasoning" for these bases and realize that they are just being set up as "doomsteads for the elite".

tin foil hattish to be sure... but sure does make you wonder

Speaking of "doomsteads for the elite," has this tidbit been posted here:

Russia to build domed cities in Arctic

One plan for the region will involve special Arctic cities. The first city is proposed for a frozen Siberian island will be known as "Umka", housing 5,000 residents underneath a huge dome. "It is modeled after an imaginary Moon city or a completely isolated space station."

According to The Sunday Express, the city is expected to cost around $6.4 billion, and will provide workers with a luxury environment.

“We aim to have laboratories, houses, but also parks, an Aqua complex, hotels and a cathedral. Naturally there will be schools, kindergartens, recreation zones, a hospital and sport facilities," one architect told the British paper.


"Speaking of "doomsteads for the elite,"

I think you meant domesteads :-)

Write a book about it, too: Domesday Book...

Golly ... if your objective is "doomsteads for the elite", then I think you could pick better than Robinson Barracks in Darwin.

The climate is very tropical and rugged - a monsoon for four months, then hot drought for the remaining eight months. Sticky, humid, prone to disease-carrying mosquitoes and many other bugs. Nowhere to go swimming, despite the heat (the crocs and stingers will get you), and apart from fishing, no source of food for about 1,000km in any direction - the climate, the bugs, and the soil quality are all against you. But a good supply of fresh water, if you don't mind Cryptosporidium and Giardia in your Chivas Regal.

In "Man vs Wild" they asked a few of the guys if they like the cold episodes or the hot...2 out of 3 picked the cold. Myself, I'll take cold any day. I've got clothes and firewood is only a chainsaw and a park away. Heat just sucks the life out of you. Cold makes you feel alive.

Yes and no. Long term (and in a context where energy was scarce) - I think I would take heat over cold as a survival strategy - after all, human beings evolved near the tropics, and we are adapted for it. Cold is fatal to us pretty quickly, whereas we can all stand 40C for a few days, or even longer.

And of course I am an Australian saying this - and we don't do cold very well (in fact - really badly). But ducking into the shade when required (or jumping into a nearby swimming pool) - is quite a lot more fun (and cheaper) than (a) shovelling a mountain of snow, or (b) cutting a mountain of firewood!

A couple of stories from Ford on both ends of the fuel spectrum...

Ford's new Mustang Shelby GT is first 200-mph muscle car

The 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang will what Ford claims will be the most powerful production V-8 engine in the world: a 650-horsepower brute that's a full 100 hp. more than the one it replaces.
Ford is not saying what it expects the gas mileage rating to be, but says it will be good enough to avoid a government "gas guzzler tax."

New Ford Escape gets curvier, more fuel stingy

The Escape will gain an estimated 5 miles a gallon through advanced engines. It will have both the option of 1.6-liter and 2-liter versions of the turbocharged four-cylinder Ecoboost engine. There will be no six-cylinder option.

Best hopes for the more fuel efficient vehicles.

The new Mustang BOSS 302 seems to do pretty well for itself against a 6+liter competitor ;)

YouTube: Mustang Boss 302 vs Chevrolet Camaro video feature by autocar.co.uk

Fuel economy of either choice? *sssh* Don't ask, don't tell.

(Full disclosure: I am the proud owner of a V8 Mustang.)

The Ford Escape? Really? 28/33 MPG is hardly something wonderful.

"The Ford Escape? Really? 28/33 MPG is hardly something wonderful."

For a SUV with a 1500 lb towing capability it's pretty good. My Aveo gets a little better mileage, but is not rated for towing anything.

the smart fortwo gets it's highway millage on a 'bad' day in the city..

This is a good observation which demonstrates the weird split strategies of the car companies. I recently posted an article about how Toyota believes in peak oil and are accordingly preparing for it by planning hybrids and electric vehicles. On the other hand, they are also producing some pretty hefty gas guzzlers like the Sequoia that are going to become the dinosaurs in the near future.

I heard they are coming up with the Flintstones car for the health conscious amongst us, here's what the prototype looks like

Re S. China Sea & Strait of Malacca choke point. U.S. pre-positioning troops for the next 'Great Game'

US, Australia Announce Expanded Military Cooperation

... Standing with President Obama, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced an "enhancement" of the 60 year ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, U.S.) Treaty, in which as many as 2,500 U.S. Marines will rotate through bases in the north.

US Secretary of State Backs Philippines in South China Sea Dispute

... Although Clinton reaffirmed U.S. neutrality in the dispute, she says the defense treaty between the two countries needs updating.

"And that will require working with the Philippines to provide greater support for external defense, particularly maritime domain awareness - defensive ones - maritime boundaries. We've begun intensive consultations between our two governments to determine exactly the specifics of such an approach would be," she said.


only a matter of hours before another Chinese rebuke...?

Edit: nvm missed this headline above: Tensions rise on South China Sea dispute

"Occupy" Australia?

Measure Seeks to Give Border Patrol Power to Circumvent Environmental Laws

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — No one can recall the last time an illegal immigrant hiked into the rugged and remote wilderness of Glacier National Park in an attempt to slip into the United States.

Well, I personally have snuck into the US along this route. We took a boat from Waterton Park in Canada to a dock landing on Waterton Lake, walked up a trail, crawled through a cave, crossed a series of cliffs clinging to a chain bolted to the rocks, and at the end of it all found ourselves at Crypt Lake in the US Glacier Park - staring at a wall of mountains which were unclimbable without ropes and pitons. Someone asked, "Do we need a passport?" and I said, "Do you see any immigration officers here?".

Crypt Lake Hike

The hike features a 15 minute boat ride across Upper Waterton Lake to the trailhead at Crypt Landing. The trail passes close to 4 spectacular waterfalls: Hell Roaring Falls (1 km), Twin Falls (3.5 km), Burnt Rock Falls (5.6 km) and Crypt Falls (8 km). A high-light for many is the steel ladder and 60 foot tunnel through the mountain. After a short maneuver around a cliff (with cable for added security), hikers arrive at beautiful Crypt Lake.

I think the US border officials really need to go on medication to control their paranoia. The only people they're going to see who are not on the official trail are hikers who are lost and some dirtbag climbers focused on climbing peaks in the wrong country.

Montana has the lowest wages in the US, Alberta has the highest wages in Canada - which direction do you thing people are trying to sneak across the border? Most of Canada's illegal immigration comes from Americans trying to sneak in - Mexican workers we give visas to because they like to work hard for not much money, and we have a bit of a labor shortage here.

Re: Selling the Oil Illusion, American Style

I'd be curious to see a poll of the American public on awareness of the U.S. peak 40 years ago. Perhaps if they knew how far away we are they'd be less easily fooled by the "oil illusion" of unconventional domestic resources.

Or perhaps a poll on the difference between peak liquids and peak C+C.

The more I learn, the more I realize how willfully ignorant the general public is.

What peak? That B&M report shows us passing the 1970 peak if we just give the oil biz everything they want.

And Bachmann promised us $2/gallon gas too! Yergin says "There will be oil." With all that info floating out there, it is no surprise that people are misinformed.

If people want to believe something, all you have to do is put up a half-way credible 'expert opinion' re-affirming what they want to believe and then they'll believe it.

Study predicts drastic effects on [NY] state from climate change

... Climate change will radically transform New York state by 2080 in ways unimaginable today, affecting everything from the kinds of birds flying overhead to the crops farmers will be able to grow, according to report out today.

More than 50 scientists worked three years to complete the study that is intended to send a wake-up call to residents, urban planners, water resource managers and businesses with a simple message: New York must begin now to adapt to a warming climate over the coming decades.

... By the middle of the century, annual costs associated with climate change, such as more flooding made worse by higher numbers of flash storms or hurricanes, will top $10 billion annually in the state.

The elderly and low-income residents and those in rural areas will be especially hit by the changes. They will find themselves either struggling, in the case of the elderly, to avoid fatal heat stroke incidents, or, in the case of the poor, how to afford costly retrofits to reduce higher energy costs.

Transportation and water resource systems will face the most significant climate change impacts unless there are major infrastructure changes to cope with the warming. Hydropower plants will have less water during summer periods and utilities across the state will be especially strained during the hottest periods to provide reliable source of power.

Climate Risks for New York State

"...affecting ... the kinds of birds flying overhead..."

Sure, whatever, LOL. The majority of the state population still lives in or around New York City, where the pigeons, seagulls, starlings, and grackles are forever...

In fact, with the Overpaved Metro Area, Central Park is a key stopover and watering hole for Coastal Migraters, giving New Yorkers a chance to see some truly wonderful variety in Birds.

.. and 'forever' doesn't seem like it'll last forever necessarily.


Prior to urbanization, New York City used to be the center of one of the great wildlife and fishing areas of the world. There were vast flocks of birds in the air, large numbers of wild game running through the fields, and huge amounts of fish in the water.

At one time, half the oysters produced in the world came from New York Harbor (this is document in the book The Big Oyster) and New York restaurants offered some fabulous oyster dinners - all the oysters you could eat for 7 cents.

Of course, urbanization and industrial development put an end to all that, and I don't think NY Harbor produces any oysters at all nowadays - at least not any you would want to eat.

So, they can worry about climate change but I don't think it will be as drastic as the changes they have already made to their environment.

I don't think it will be as drastic as the changes they have already made to their environment.

Whenever some of my friends get too excited about predictions of potential climate change scenarios I take them outside and have them look down ... at the pavement; at the here-and-now, total and utter devastation of whatever ecosystem once existed in that spot. I'm all for reducing our carbon emissions but when it comes down to it, it's really hard for me to imagine environmental destruction worse than pavement.

Best hopes for less pavement.


Yes, it is important to remember that we had already--before the effects of GW really got going--pretty well pushed life on earth into the beginnings of its sixth mass extinction event since the evolution of complex live.

But I wouldn't be too sanguine about future effects. We're going to see more and more mega-droughts, mega-floods and extremes of all sorts just as we are loosing the energy resources to recover and rebuild from them. And things generally developing faster than models predicted just a few years ago, especially in the Arctic, where the vast ticking time bomb of massive quantities sub-sea and tundra carbon are ready to add fuel to the fire.

As far as anyone can tell, this much carbon has never been dumped into the atmosphere this quickly in the history of the earth. The previous periods that came close scoured most of the surface of the planet of all life forms.

The predictions in this report, grim as they may be for some, are likely far understated from what is coming up.

Climate change will also devastate our global agricultural systems. As will lack of oil... oh, and fertilisers... and financial collapse... and soil loss... and no freaking water... and loss of plant variety... and... Well you get the gist. We can only ignore reality for so long before we begin to starve.

re "Climate change episode of Frozen Planet won't be shown in the U.S. as viewers don't believe in global warming"

Please!!!!! Like Evolution and Gravity, Global Warming is not something one believes in. Its not a belief system, its a fact. One doesn't believe in gravity. One just experiences it especially if you fall off of a roof! I don't believe in evolution. I instead witness it, see it, and sometimes measure it. We are in the process of witnessing, characterizing and measuring Global Warming. Its not a matter of believing in it. Its looking at the facts and then basing policy on the evidence.

Except that Americans are idiots, and easily swayed by our new Corporate Person Overlords who tell the sheeple what to believe and what not to believe, for the betterment of their near-sighted bottom lines.

Stupid and Ignorant are different realities.

Americans are willfully being made ignorant in conscious steps by corporate decisions like this.

The Circle is more Vicious than ever!

jokuhl, you might be interested in reading John Taylor Gatto.


Advertising, spin, lies. Call it what you want; we are manipulated more than any generation in history, especially in the US of A. And, we spend $1K for 60 inch color television sets that we use to watch Faux News, and our favorite pastors in all their full colored splendor. It isn't even forced on us. We invite it, in fact we pay for it! I guess we deserve it, don't we?

But, hey! The advertisors will NOT pay a TV station to broadcast something that is contrary to their reality, and the actually believe they can create that themselves. They are drinking their own koolade, and soon will join the rest of the sheeple at the end.

Worse than ignorant, I'd say.


That's where I think I'm turning more towards nowadays. It's frustrating seeing college friends, my generation, LOOKING FORWARD to joining the BAU even as it is fracturing. Looking forward to landing a job so they can buy big screen tvs to watch shows about fictitious characters go through their own lives. Looking forward to joining the revelry at bars and nightclubs so they can celebrate...being young? I'm not even sure. Looking forward to creating their own sphere of influence in a diminishing world. Perhaps some of them unconsciously know that the world is screwed so they might as well enjoy the last vestiges of BAU while they can? I don't have the heart to join them...

"...and soon will join the rest of the sheeple at the end."

Shall we gather at the river?


Many years ago, in South Africa (a very conservative country, at the time), there was a British series called "World at War" broadcast on TV. I believe it was shown in the US also.

Controversy was raised over the showing of the episode relating to the liberation of the concentration camps, and the explicit scenes documented, when SABC stated they were not going to broadcast the episode. I don't recall the exact reasoning given - something like "it would stir people up too much" or "upset some sensitive stomachs" or words to that effect. South Africa, at the time, held very tight control over what was broadcast on public airwaves.

Suffice it to say, there was sufficient public outcry over the issue that eventually SABC backed down and showed the episode. Titled "Genocide (1941 - 1945)".


I wonder if sufficient people here in the US will stand up and say the episode must be broadcast, for no other reason than to tell the truth about what is happening.

My ex-wife's maternal grandmother died in South Africa in a British concentration camp during the Boer war ("That nasty little war" as Churchill called it). I'll bet the British won't have any films on this subject.

My ex-brother-in-law's Italian grandfather owned a banana plantation in Italian East Africa before WWII and ended up dying a British concentration camp in Kenya during the East African Campaign.

Kind of awkward when my raised-during-the-Blitz British mother (bride's mom) went out to lunch with her counterpart (groom's dad and daughter of plantation owner) at the wedding in Italy. History can catch up with you in surprising ways.

Jonathan - Yep. Those old wounds can be felt, though mildly, a few generations removed from the event. Every now and then I feel my own subtle case of Irish Alzheimer's bubble up slightly when I see a report about my English cousins. Irish Alzheimer's? I tend to forget many things but not the grudges. LOL.

A very long time ago I listened to a very elderly Cajun lady in a bayou grocery store babble on about those "damn Germans". Things weren't the same since they moved into the area. Afterwards I asked the store owner if she was taking about a post WWII migration. Nope...the lady was upset about a German migration to the area in the mid 1800's. Obviously bad feelings she had inherited from previous generations.

Though of Irish heritage I was raised by an old Italian man. That was another brief lesson in blood feuds.

I knew a couple who were visiting Ireland, and the Irish asked them if they were Catholics or Protestants. They replied that they were atheists. The Irish then said, "Yes, but are you Catholic atheists or Protestant atheists?"

I suppose the only way around this issue is to reply that you are a Jewish atheist or a Buddhist atheist. It's hard to deal with a bipolar society.

Rocky - On a serious note I'm always a little stunned by the religious battles amongst the Irish. Maybe in part being an atheist I don't favor either side but also don't fault folks for whatever beliefs they hold. From the little I understand I wonder if religious angle is used as a proxy for the political history between the P's and C's. Hopefully I'll make my first pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors and get to ask some of them straight out.

I can understand an Irish/English split to a degree. But Irishman vs. Irishman? In Africa I worked with a N.I. P and could tell the harsh attitude was real. He knew I was of S.I. C heritage and there was a tiny hard edge there. And that was with me not letting him know I was an atheist. An atheist S.I. C. might have been too much for him to deal with. LOL.

No real mystery to the Irish divide. Just good old fashioned tribalism.

The old Celtic tribes are still fighting for control of the island. The identity markers have changed over the centuries (now in the form of religion) but not the need to be 'high king' of the mountain (think, Terra).

I think it has more to do with the mass settlement by England of Scots Protestants into Northern Ireland during the 17th Century, displacing native Catholics. I don't think it has much to do with old Celtic tribes.

Who do you think the Scots are?

"Who do you think the Scots are?"

Picts. :-)

I agree that it has far less to do with ancient religious snits, or tribalism (Celtic or otherwise) - than the NI Protestant Unionists continually assert. It is all about economic and political marginalisation and outright discrimination against 'native' Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland, after it was seized by the English.

The religious prejudice comes from the English Protestants (the occupying forces) - and they have a long history of doing this - starting with Henry VIII burning most of the monasteries in the mid-16th Century. The only reasonable solution is the re-unification of NI into the Republic of Ireland (Eire) - with NI Protestants either accepting that, or heading back to the UK.

... the re-unification of NI into the Republic of Ireland (Eire) - with NI Protestants either accepting that, or heading back to the UK.

Blaming all those nasty Protestants for the troubles is a bit of a narrow interpretation of history. Nice to see you back one tribe over the other. This story, like all human stories, is not conveniently linear. Good and bad, right and wrongs on both sides of the Irish Sea.

What's more, even if you are accurate in your assessment, you can't change the wrongs of the past by imposing arbitrary and draconian remedies on the present. Wouldn't be a very helpful solution for anybody, including the southern Irish.

History is what is it is. You can no more ask the north to join the south or send the plantation settlers of 300 years ago back where they came from anymore than you could do the same for the Americas or Australia. You deal with the reality you find on the ground, as it is currently constituted with all its developments, not as you think it ought to be.

That is pulling a really long bow ... making comparisons with the European occupation/invasion on North America and Australia. Those realities will not and cannot be wound back, but the reunification of so-called "Northern Ireland" with the Republic could be achieved quite reasonably and within the bounds of political reality. In the same way as the creation as a viable, just, and enduring Palestine could be achieved.

Your acceptance of past injustice sounds like an on-going justification for current injustice ... and more than a little patronising too, by the way. It is definitely not "tribal", nor a question of backing one "tribe" over another. Your use of this terminology just weakens and distorts your argument, fatally.

...but the reunification of so-called "Northern Ireland" with the Republic could be achieved quite reasonably and within the bounds of political reality.

Have you talked to people in Northern Ireland? Protestant or Roman Catholic? Unification wouldn't be as easy to achieve as you think. Too much water under the bridge.

A few decades ago, I spent a month in Northern Ireland. I then spent a month in the Republic. It was the summer of 1989. The sectarian troubles were still simmering. I can tell you, quite a few of the Protestants in the north attended school or university in the south. Quite a few from the south shopped in the north. The religious divide was incidental. Most people in the north, many Catholics included, saw clear benefits of remaining part of the United Kingdom. For starters, you could get birth control in the shops in Belfast. Also could get girlie magazines. You couldn't, at least at that point of time, in Dublin.

The reasons for the Irish question are complicated. Have you ever wondered why the sting came so quickly out of the troubles after the Good Friday Agreement was reached in 1998? From both the IRA and the Ulster Constabulary Provisional? In fact, it began to settle down a few years before, partly due to financing. In the 1970s and the 1980s, there was a vested interest in one of the parties of the Cold War to keep the troubles rolling. After the Berlin Wall came down that source of funding dried up. So, too, did off-shore funding for paramilitary groups as Interpol and other policing agencies improved their levels of international cooperation and could monitor shipping and banking transactions. Once the outsiders were eliminated from the equation, the situation began to improve. It costs money to buy arms. It costs money to wage a concerted military campaign. The locals were well past the point of being comfortable with the unease. They wanted it stopped. They wanted it stopped now.

As far as the history of the Protestant plantations, that too is complicated. Ireland was a security risk for the English in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was a back door for foreign armies. Read up on your history on the campaigns, particularly during the Elizabethan period, namely the The Nine Year War. Allison Weir, in her biography of Queen Elizabeth I, writes that Hugh O'Neill of Tyrone wasn't exactly a stalwart Roman Catholic. In fact, he and most of the country held fast to much of the pagan past (for that matter, not that far under the surface today) and he did dream of some day restoring the High Kingship at Terra. The flight of the earls in 1608 left the door open for the Stuart kings to start a policy of pacification using Scottish settlers. They were Presbyterian. The English were Anglicans. The Irish became increasing tied to Rome in reaction - the enemy of my enemy (the Catholic Powers of Europe) is now my friend. Thus the religious labels. But don't underestimate the power of tribalism at work either. All conflicts among groups of people are basically tribal - even ones in the name of religion, nationalism and/or ideology.

Now that the Celtic Tiger has gone bust I doubt it if there is much of an appetite in the north to join up with the south. There isn't much of an appetite in the south to agitate the violence of the past. Ireland will remain divided. History has made the island two countries not one, at least for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for trotting out the party line(s). Yawn.

I once worked with two Italian engineers in the eighties. During WW2 one had been a fascist, fought at Stalingrad and walked home to Italy after the defeat and hid in the mountains to avoid being killed by his own countrymen. The other was a communist partisan who'd fought in the Italian resistance against the Germans and fascists. Not sure why, but they didn't seem to get on to well together. Then there were the remnants of the ousted Greek Junta hiding out with us too, but that's another story.

Sorry but nothing irritates me more than one eyed English haters.
Pardon us for wanting to share in your plundered land and wanting to give blacks a semblance of human rights. Don't worry we soon let you have your racist playground back. How's that working out for you ?

Cool down, orbit. I think the gist of these posts is to point out the irony of wartime situations and the fact that all countries at one time or another practice this type of brutality, not to put any one particular society on the spot.

Unfortunately, English does not have an easy way to distinguish between "believes an opinion" and "assents to the truth of a fact". We use "accept" and "believe" interchangeably for both.

Yep. These discussions pop up every now and thre, also in forums in other languages. I think few lanuages have enough nuances to make out the difference. Also in Swedish we say things like "I belive in Santa" (where we know this do not exist), "I belive in God" (where people have varying opinions), "I belive I will come visit you tomorow afternoon" (where it is likely so) and "I belive it is raining" (where it is definatly so). We invent words we need, and we simply do not discuss philosophy often enough for this.

It's a wonderful thing when the response to public ignorance is not to say "wow, we need some educational materials here ASAP to remedy this ignorance amongst us," but instead to suppress any information that might enlighten the ignorance.

A jaw-dropper. But it's about the ideological paint sticking to GW and its deniers really; anthropogenic climate destabilisation has been declared a Liberal Plot by the rightists, and any constructive response to it is seen as a threat to profit and a restraint on trade by the corporadoes invested in BAU; so regardless of facts, the information is unwelcome and politically tainted. If people really took AGW seriously it might be Bad for Business!

I keep reminding myself that as the Mayan empire collapsed, having undermined its own biotic resource base, the response of the elites was to build bigger and more impressive temples. Plus que ca change. Presumably, any member of the Mayan ruling elite who suggested that reforestation, land reform, assistance to the struggling peasantry, peacemaking, reduction of conspicuous consumption etc. might be a better survival strategy... would have been shouted down and/or put to death.

It's strange how we view historical monuments such as the pyramids, etc. with such high regard. When they were obviously the result of incredible stupidity by the elite of those respective societies. I guess we can assume that as civilisations turn toxic they produce enormously useless edifices, kill their citizens then collapse.

Actually, some economists believe that the building of the pyramids contributed to the rise of Egypt as a great civilization. The organizational expertise they built up to create a huge project as pyramid building was later devoted to organizing the Egyptian economy and increasing its output. Massive irrigation projects were a large part of this effort.

The labor used in building the pyramids (not slave labor, because the workers were paid) was really a make-work project to occupy the workers who otherwise would have been unemployed. In other words, it had zero economic cost.

At least that's the theory.

The decline occurred when Egypt got into a war in an attempt to conquer Syria. Wars have been the downfall of many an empire - the latest being WWI, which resulted in the collapse of four empires - the Russian, Ottoman, Austo-Hungarian, and Prussian Empires; and contributed to the fatal weakening of the British Empire.

Ah yes, economists. Well they're probably wrong about that as they are about everything else. Their purpose in life after all seems to be giving intellectual legitimacy to the elite's looting and assurances everything's fine when things ultimately fall apart.

I'm not sure how paying your workforce to pile big rocks on top of each other for no productive purpose can have zero economic cost, except to an economist of course. Someone or something, somewhere must have been picking up the tab.

What is the cause and effect of wars? Wars often follow recessions. Perhaps failing empires build useless monuments to keep their stagnating economies going and then start useless wars when building useless monuments causes their economies to collapse. I guess that's the trouble with building unsustainable systems run by a select group of inbreds. :)

In Egypt, Pharao owned everything[*]. In that perspective, speaking of slaves is irelevant; there was only better or worse working conditions...

*I've been told so.

Being an agricultural economy, there were probably seasons when a lot of farmers had little to do. Still you have to wonder how many construction injuries and deaths must have happened. Large scale construction using primative methods probably is fairly hazardis.

ismail kadare has another view of the purpose of pyramids:


of course it's a novel but definitely worth reading!

I think the Payback on Giza has probably been fairly decent, though.. as their 'in the long run', has been a pretty long run..

I don't expect the Pharaohs were thinking about the future Tourist industry, but who knows? They might have just called it 'Timeless International Appeal', and they wouldn't have been all that wrong, eh?

For that matter, those Stone Heads are good for a fairly steady trickle of Cute-Trinket Dollars and Hotel Visits.. did Diamond actually go there to research his book, I wonder? It's that Lucrative 'Collapse Tourism' trade!

Hmmm... having people non-productively ogling stone heads and consuming loads of non-renewable resources in the process is a good economic role-model. Ooooookaaay! If that works for you run with it :)

The Pharaohs could have goosed their GDP figures by sending their workers into the desert and looking at a rock or something instead of building the pyramids. If only they had the wisdom of modern economics :)

My guess is that the pyramids served as a focus for economic specialization and exchange, and brought people, resources and information together to get civilization rolling. That they built pyramids instead of skyscrapers is immaterial. They and we are sometimes possessed by a certain moral/spiritual part of the brain that fills a nascent intellectual void. The void was great back then and surprisingly it still is. At some point, when energy wanes and we become even more spiritual and our intellects are once again pushed aside, will we entomb our billionaires in their heaven-pointing skyscrapers? Vertical cemeteries with debt slaves at the bottom and Bill Gates and entourage in the penthouse? Who's to say?

I didn't say they were 'a good' in some global, and PC evaluation.. just that they have drawn a considerable amount of people to them, creating a range of consistent, if small, industries for many centuries. Inadvertent, perhaps, but money is money..

It doesn't matter if it works for me, those economics are local, and has been bread and butter for them for a long time.

Similarly ... having just spent some time in Europe, I was constantly getting very bewildered ... big cities have massive cathedrals of course, but so do many very modest - even quite small - communities. And places like Paris and London have a fairly big church in just about every suburb.

It is a testament to the gullibility and fear-ignorance of humankind, that these societies would spend vast fortunes on these extraordinary edifices to their gods and superstitions - and memorials to some local heavyweight's over-blown ego as well, no doubt. So much of that energy (physical and mental) could have been directed at educating children, building decent houses and water supplies, improving agriculture, developing the practice of science-based medicine ... and much more.

But no - people died like flies at a very young age, while Notre Dame, Chartres, Salisbury - and a thousand more - were realised - some of the most complex structures every designed and built by humans. Someone once said the emergence of Christianity held back human development for more than 1500 years ... they might well have been right.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto in his epic history, Millenium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, points out that for about eight hundred years (6th to the 14th centuries) Western Europe was the basket case of the world, not dissimilar to the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan today. In many ways, the Christian church was the only agency of unity and learning amid conflicting warlords. By appealing to the universal and people's higher angels, Christianity was a mitigating factor as it provided solace to those affected by the nasty and brutish conditions in which they lived.

The centres of civilization during much of this period (economic trade, science, the arts) lay in Baghdad (during the heady days of the Islamic Golden Age until the Mongols invaded in 1258) or closer to the scene in Constantinople (the centre of orthodox Christendom and the chief Christian power of the day until the Turks and Normans did it in). Here, in both places, faith and reason were complementary at least while the going was good.

Many historians have argued that the sacking of Constantinople and the coming of its exiles into western Europe was the leaven that provided for the rise of the modern age. If nothing else, it was a boost to the learning and vitality that led to the Renaissance in Italy.

One last point. Yes, the church built big buildings. It also provided relief, copied the classics, cultivated farms from wetlands, educated the nobles, ran the inns, and nursed the sick. Who builds the biggest buildings today? Do the gleaming towers of our era serve the needs of the common folk any better? Probably not.

I suspected such an argument would be put: (a) that Christianity did many good things as well (debatable), (b) that massive cathedrals gave the masses solace and something to look up to (literally), and (c) that each age builds its grand and foolish monuments. But I doubt that over the past 500 years such a high proportion of a society's or community's resources have been dedicated to building grand edifices.

One possible comparison is the Palace of Versailles built for Louis XIV, but even he was king of all France, and had a lot of taxes to call upon. And Versailles was about as useful to the masses as the cathedrals were.

Every age squanders the allocation of resources.

That's what this blog is about. Comments by a variety of contributors would suggest that we're not doing much better today.

Actually the real reason seems to be that the final episode has much more in the way of 'pieces to camera'. Therefore it's much harder to bring in some american voice over individual if you show it - it points up that it should be Attenborough narrating all of it.

So either you lose the last episode, or you lose the american voice. Many would prefer option B, but discovery are going with option A.

You think?

From Wikipedia:-

Interestingly, although Attenborough's documentaries have attained immense popularity in the United States, several have never been made available on DVD in NTSC format, most notably those that cast doubt upon conservative religious or political positions. These include:

Life on Earth, which examines the evidence for evolution.
State of the Planet
The Truth About Climate Change
First Life, which examines the origin of life.

I hardly believe evolution works fast enough to be witnessed in a life time. (Except when humans makeit happen throu breeding and other hard methods). But what do I know, I am no paleontologist.

But my main point; You can not believe in, for example, evolution. But you can "not belive" in it. It is easy. Just repeat the words "I don't believe you".

It is interesting to notice that there are no "gravitationists", but there are "evolutionists". If you think about it; every time you say you are an evolutionist, you admit it is something you can belive in. You don't call your self a gravitationist, because no one deny gravitation. Think about it for a couple of minutes.

I hardly believe evolution works fast enough to be witnessed in a life time.

Perhaps you'll change your mind if you catch a strain of resistant bacteria?

In some species, which have short breeding times, it can happen pretty quickly. The classic example were British moths. Soot made trees black, and soon moths became black to avoid predation. So if black moths have twice the reproductive advanatge over white moths, how many moth generations would you imagine it takes?

What happened with the moths is probably the environment preferentially selecting pre-existing genetic alleles in the moth's DNA. This is why in high latitudes there are more short stocky people, and in hot countries more tall thin people. There short stocky Africans, and tall thin Inuit, just not so many.

Russia must invest USD 100 billion a year to meet domestic and international demand for its energy resources

In the oil and gas sectors alone, there is a pressing need to invest an average of 70 billion a year in order to develop the next generation of Russian oil and gas supply, often in new, remote and challenging frontiers such as the Arctic or deep offshore.

Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the IEA, warns that it will be difficult to mobilise investment on such a scale.

The analysis shows that Russia is currently not on track to meet its ambitious target of a 40% reduction in energy intensity (a measure of total primary energy use per unit of gross domestic product) by 2020. The IEA’s projections indicate that, even with Russia’s new energy efficiency policies, the target is likely to be met closer to 2030.

Demographics may add a new wrinkle to Russia's abilities by 2030

Russians are leaving the country in droves

Some chafe at life under Vladimir Putin's rule, but for many others, economic limitations are the prime motivator. Experts say the numbers have reached demographically dangerous levels.

... Russian nuclear physicist Vladimir Alimov, who now works at the University of Toyama in Japan, said he couldn't survive on the $450 monthly salary of a senior researcher at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The wave of emigration, which has included large numbers of educated Russians, has grave implications for a country of 142 million with a death rate significantly higher than its birthrate. A study published this year by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development called Russia a waning power and predicted its population would shrink by 15 million by 2030. ... "The intellectual potential of the nation is being washed away, as the most mobile, intelligent and active are leaving."

About 20% of Russians are thinking about leaving the country and trying their luck abroad, according to various Russian polling agencies, from the independent Levada Center to the Kremlin-friendly VTsIOM. Among 18- to 35-year-olds, close to 40% of respondents say they'd like to leave.

It seems if people feel they cannot affect change by working within their system, and they have the means, they vote with their feet.

When will we see this in the U.S.?

My father left the UK in the early 60's because he wanted better pay, wider techno-opportunities, and lower taxes. He fled to the US, part of the "brain drain" much bewailed in the UK business press at the time.

I, still a UK citizen, fled the US for Canada in 2007, fearing the possibility of a hypertrophied security-state (the early indicators were and still are visible) and the resulting loss of basic civil liberties (particularly as a resident alien), plus the complicating possibility of a massive financial crash (early indicators ditto). I suspect more may follow, some making decisions on political principle and some simply looking for financial stability outside the massively corrupt and shaky US banking system.

With the increasing stupidification of the popular and political culture, restraints/harassment/censorship of scientists -- even death threats in some cases to climate scientists who speak publicly about the implications of their models -- I can well imagine a brain drain from the US unless policy/culture changes pretty soon.

This surprises me. Russia is one of the great countries of the future, it has the perfect combination of stable to declining population, plenty of natural resources, and access to the Artic.

Or is this just another example of sheeple following trends which have peaked, like all the immigrants coming to the U.S. now.

All true Mr. Sachs but Russia is saddled with a highly corrupt oligarchy that feeds off the bottom. Its polity and economy are not user friendly. Escape options are vodka or emigration.

Wow, they really are different - here it's bad light beer instead of vodka.

Every nation wants a growing population. Even if they put in place birth control measures its invariably merely to moderate rather than halt growth. Most people still believe that resources are effectively infinite, and that a growing population is an unalloyed good which will allow them to claim a larger share of this bounty.

This even applies to local governments within the U.S. I always find amusing to enter words like "stagnant" or "vibrant" and "population growth local" into a search engine. You can read about local business councils fretting that their population growth rate is stagnant at "only" 0.5% or 1%, and opportunities are just passing them by. Or others boasting of "steady sustainable" growth of 3% or 4%.

But how will nations and governments cope when they realize resources truly are finite and a growing population merely means less for everyone? If you look at pre-industrial history they'll probably still be pressing for more growth regardless. More cheap labor, more foot soldiers, and the welfare of the common person be damned.

The logic of biotic organisms is to grow until you reach a limit. The limit could be predation by another species, or the exhaustion of physical resources.

We humans have pretty much eliminated all species that could eat us (except on the micro scale!). So that leaves exhaustion of physical resources.

I fear that the growth-boosters have a simple and "final" solution in mind for the resource shortage ahead, and that is to kill off anyone they see as competition for the dwindling supply. So growth of Us is Good, because we plan to eliminate Them and have It All for Ourselves. What happens when there's only Us left and we're still growing? well, they don't think ahead that far, or they'll quickly invent a new Us/Them criterion for the next cull, and so on.

I keep clinging to the story of Tikopia in the hope that we are, in fact, a little smarter than yeast.

The growthists aren't concerned about resource shortages because they fully believe resources are infinite. I go to mainstream economy websites and I read that we are in a "post-Malthusian" age, that resources are infinite and to believe they are finite is naive and illogical.

The example of Tikopia is an interesting one. They had to resort to some fairly extraordinary means to restrict their fertility. But every pre-industrial society is the same. This is contrary to many economists who believe the only factors limiting fertility in pre-industrial times were "Malthusian", i.e. hunger and disease. Overpopulation, not underpopulation, has been the main problem throughout history. That hasn't stopped those in power from constantly worrying about underpopulation and exhorting their subject to breed more.

I go to mainstream economy websites and read that we are in a "post-Malthusian" age, that resources are infinite

Links? (please)

Malthus was wrong?

Inscribe these words in stone

You are correct. Its mostly pop-economist sites which explicitly state nonsense about infinite resources, true academic sources tend to be more cautious. And the term "post-Malthusian" seems to refer not to natural resource limitations but to population growth patterns in the pre- and post- industrial eras.

Well, it appears to be a big day in the Canadian Energy Industry. In this case, natural gas (liquefied) is in the headlines.

Shell eyes LNG terminal in B.C. that would overshadow Kitimat

A group of major international energy partners led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC is contemplating an LNG export terminal for the British Columbia coast that is substantially larger than a rival’s project that could soon begin construction.

Shell, which has teamed with Korea Gas Corp., China National Petroleum Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., is looking to load 1.8 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas onto tankers bound for Asian markets, officials with Spectra Energy Corp. revealed Tuesday.

Shell is examining plans for a 3.6 billion cubic feet a day project, which would be among the largest under consideration in the world. Spectra spokesman Peter Murchland later said the correct figure is 1.8 billion. That compares to the 1.4-billion cubic feet a day proposed by Kitimat LNG, whose backers are Apache Corp., EOG Resources Inc. and Encana Corp.

The objective here is to take shale gas resources in Northeastern British Columbia (which are huge) to markets in Asia (which are huge). Since the recent nuclear reactor excursions after the tsunami in Japan, the opportunities for LNG have grown.

Kitimat is a deepwater port on the BC coast which, while it doesn't have very many people, will allow very big ships to dock, and (unusually in North America) is privately operated. This latest announcement doesn't really say which port they intend to use, and Shell will only admit that it is "exploring the potential of an LNG project in British Columbia.".

What really are the options? Rupert?...Longer pipeline along a slide prone area. Bella Coola....Longer still with slides, flooding and fires...crappy access road. Stewart? Nass? Not much to chose from without big construction costs. Plus, Kitimat is industry friendly.

Just out of curiosity, am I the only one that thinks that in about 25 years, Canada is going to be wishing that it had held on to its fossil fuel resources rather than exporting them?

Maybe Canada thinks that 'this time it will turn out different'. That sort of thinking didn't work out so swell for the U.K.

p.s. I don't think it will take 25 years.

The fundamental difference between Canada and the UK is that Canada is 40 times as big as the UK and has about half as many people, so it has a much larger resource base in comparison to its population.

In particular, Canada has about a 400 year supply of oil at current rates of production in its oil sands, so Canadians tend not to be terribly worried about running out of fossil fuels. In addition, Canada has a lot of alternatives to fossil fuels, including large amounts of undeveloped hydroelectric power potential and huge amounts of uranium.

I'm sure Gaul, or Germania thought of itself in similar terms before the Roman invasion.

I'm not sure what the Roman Empire has to do with it.

Interestingly though, Canada is nearly twice the size of the Roman Empire at its peak, and most Canadian provinces are bigger than either Gaul or Germania. Does that help put it in perspective?

I think he means the US will invade and take the oil long before 400 years have passed.

Canada will be a good little huge country and keep sending that precious black gold so grandma can drive to her mailbox.

Yes, but Canada will charge for its oil, and I'm not sure that grandma will be able to afford the price. Americans are far too complacent about the global availability of oil because other people are bidding for it, too.

Along this line what fraction of fossil fuels are still owned by Canadians versus foreign individuals, corporations, and countries?

Almost all of the fossil fuels in Canada are owned by the various provincial governments or the federal government. They lease the rights to produce them to companies in return for a share of the production or a cash payment in lieu.

in about 25 years, Canada is going to be wishing that it had held on to its fossil fuel resources


No your not! And it's a very good question that most every Canadian is not thinking about.

Canadian Gas Exports Threaten Energy Security
by David Hughes

Andrew Nikiforuk wrote an article on David Hughes's concerns about energy security. (The Tyee)

Frankly, I am wondering how most Canadians are going to heat their homes with natural gas supply from the WCSB in decline? And more of what is left of the WCSB's natural gas will be going to extract bitumen from the tar sands?

It doesn't seem prudent. But capitalism and oil isn't about prudence?



Actually, the peak and decline in conventional natural gas production comes as no surprise to the regulatory authorities. Their plan (unbeknownst to most people) is to curtail exports to the US and divert it to domestic consumers. The US is mostly unaware of this plan (Americans don't really know what is happening in other countries) and officials there don't really care in any case because of rising US production of shale gas.

Canada also has huge amounts of shale gas (again unbeknownst to most people), which explains the lack of concern on the part of regulatory authorities about the peaking of conventional production. The recent LNG export plans have arisen because companies know they have huge amounts of shale gas available, and they don't have any markets for it.

If you take big step back and look at this there is an interesting contrast going on. On one hand there is the New Great Game that's going on between the western and eastern empires competing for energy resources, manifested by wars (both shooting and of words) and other maneuvering. On the other hand you've got the very wealthy and their tools the corporations, and the cleptocracies they've built in most of the nominally independent governments of the empire, having perverted them to serve their private interests.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Which will win out? Is it the constant fight against the other, or the desire to make a buck no matter the cost to the society? Do we fight them or sell them our last energy resources? I'm not viewing the elite as some monolithic group that meets in a star chamber, rather more like cats in a sack. There are a lot of powerful interests at play here, pulling in different directions.

2 homes damaged, 1 woman hospitalized when gas line explodes in southern Ohio

People up to 12 miles away felt the explosion and heard the roar of the fire, which was reported around 8:30 a.m.

Houston-based Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. says it was a rupture in its interstate natural gas transmission line. Company spokesman Richard Wheatley says a team has isolated the pipeline segment involved and shut the gas off.

So we're cool then, right?

Lately as a little experiment in the feasibility of "corporate personhood" I've been substituting "Dick Jones" for the company name in stories of possible corporate malfeasance and negligence, and seeing how absurd it sounds.

"Houston resident Dick Jones says it was a rupture in his interstate natural gas transmission line [that damaged two homes and put one woman in the hospital]. Family spokesman Richard Wheatley says Dick's uncle isolated the pipeline segment involved and shut the gas off."

Not as crazy as some other examples, but it brings up a couple of questions. Are Dick and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. treated the same under the law if, say, maybe a couple of federally mandated inspections got skipped along the way, or maybe some substandard materials were used in construction? Is the difference, if any, just that TGP has better insurance?

It's fun, try it out. One thing I'm positive about is that no corporation has ever done even a single day in jail, despite some rather impressive body counts at times.

Its hard to resist in this context:

"I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one"

World's oceans in peril

"From a climate change/fisheries/pollution/habitat destruction point of view, our nightmare is here, it's the world we live in."

This bleak statement about the current status of the world's oceans comes from Dr Wallace Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. Al Jazeera asked Dr Nichols, along with several other ocean experts, how they see the effects climate change, pollution and seafood harvesting are having on the oceans.

Their prognosis is not good.

The problem with the oceans is self correcting over a long time frame.....

Most of us don't have 3-5 million years to hang around and wait & see.

And none of us, if we are honest with ourselves, can know for sure when or if life in the oceans or on land will bounce back. Remember that we are inflicting multiple injuries to all ecosystems, most of the long-term effects of which will never fully know.

As for oceans, seas and lakes, we are:

--acidifying them
--filling them with plastic that continues to wreak havoc down to microscopic levels of breakdown
--heating up the surface, which kills phytoplankton, the base of the food chain
--dumping enormous quantities of industrial chemical pollutants in them, some very long lasting
--spewing huge amounts of radioactivity into them--Fukushima, most recently, but also bomb testing, subs...
--washing huge quantities of soil, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides...into them causing huge dead zones
--dumping vast quantities of sewage, often untreated, into them
--introducing foreign species into some area that destroy the native ecosystems
--turning one that was mostly ice covered all year round to one that is increasingly mostly ice free
--indirectly probably eventually changing or halting circulation patterns so that the oceans turn anoxic and die...

I'm sure I'm missing a few.

These multiple major insults are new in the history of the planet, as are many of the chemicals and radioactive elements being introduced.

{edit} Seraph's link below reminds me that we are now also spewing nano-particles all over the place, with increasingly evident negative consequences.

State of Siege USA: Why Would They Target #Occupy Now?

Suddenly the Occupy movement is under siege everywhere. There's been a wave of simultaneous, seemingly coordinated clampdowns on peaceful demonstrators in cities all across the country. Why now?

It could be nothing more than one heck of a coast-to-coast coincidence, at least theoretically speaking. But there are indications that this might have been at least partially planned and coordinated at a national level.

This week the Oakland location was struck first, followed by the blow against Wall Street. Similar police crackdowns occurred in Portland, Denver, and Phoenix. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan may have let a little too much information slip when she told an interviewer that she "was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation."

Whatever the background story is, if you're working for the 1% this is an excellent time to make the occupations vanish. Look what's coming down the pipeline ...

In a fight between a well coordinated, well funded group (1%) and a poorly coordinated, poorly funded group (99%) it is the former that wins.

And the 99% is divided with about 60% still believing in the system, 39% not believing, and 1% who know the system works for them. That gives 39% versus 61%.

In a fight between a well coordinated, well funded group (1%) and a poorly coordinated, poorly funded group (99%) it is the former that wins.

true to some degree, but i'm not convinced that 99 isn't well coordinated or funded (even if they aren't fully staffed, yet :) I'm also aware that believing in the system is not necessarily a strategic advantage in this case, esp in the long run. Small determined forces representing the larger movement of culture or other external pressure can win a war even by losing battles.

Look what's coming down the pipeline ...

That's it right there. What's coming will make the OWS movement seem miniscule in comparison.

We are doomed to repeat history if we don't study history. After WW1 the troops came back to unemployment etc. by 1919 the situation was desperate resulting in among other things the Winnipeg general strike. (One big Union )
The police were also on strike so the powers that matter hired "special" police.
Although peacefull for many weeks, the crouds were finally dispersed with a calvery charge by the "special" police. Couple people killed and many injured. Many arrests of the "ring leaders". Order was restored but the political face of Winnipeg was changed forever with a lot of the organizers getting elected in the city, province and fererally, and forming the party that is now Manitoba's government and Canada's offical opposition party.
The peacefull demonstration took a long time in 1919 but things did change.
Things may be different with OWS in the USA - some of them have lots of ammunition. This may get messy.

It is an acknowledgment by the elite that you have been effective.
One can say anything one wants, as long as it has no influence.
When it does, watch out.

It's obviously time for permanent mobile protests that de-materialise in one place while instantly materialising elsewhere. This leaves the police manpower, equipment, backup resources, legal paperwork, etc. Constantly in the wrong location.

24/365 flash demonstrations with passive systems disruption.

Well, it's awfully appealing to get immersed in this 'tear down the old system' part, but we had better not forget all the work that is needed in coming up with replacements, and creating enough trust so we don't have people who are simply tearing up any system they see.

"Anarchist-Perfectionists for Something Else, March! But don't look too organized about it!"

In this case it is a defensive mechanism.

Organizations are easy to co-opt, disorganizations are considerably more difficult, and if your message is that there is a power group that is adept at taking over organizations that needs to be put down, you had better defend yourselves from them.

The message of the Occupy movement isn't to bring down the system anyway. Most of the Occupy people I have heard from are more interested in preserving the system, income and power inequalities like we are currently experiencing in the USA are notoriously corrosive to democracy.

Jokuhl, I think they're actually trying to stop the people who are in the process of tearing down the old system. My own belief is there's little of the old system left to save, the corrupting influence of a cancerous financial system has effectively turned everything toxic.

True enough, R4 and Burgundy;
I do think that there are a lot of folks and groups invested in this set of demonstrations who are creative and positive, and have now got a decade and more of other protests to look at, to see where they can work, when they are ignored or co-opted, and how they implode or become self-defeating. I think some of the recent comparisons between the often disheartening G8, Climate and WTO meetings, and the sparks of light that have come from the World Social Forum and some of the more creative events at other protests has offered models for how we might be most effective..

But apart from that, there is still a part of the "protest culture" that simultaneously works in another mode.. it's really hard to keep the sense of 'Frustrated Outsiders Yelling at (Daddy)' from creeping in and redefining what we're really doing out here..

Ultimately, this outcry is far more mature and self-aware than even the furtive, but MASSIVE attempts to prevent the Iraq war, which were spontaneous and easily outshouted in the din of CNN and FOX.

December '64 with Mario Savio at U Cal.. as well as R.Reich.. 'Meet the New Crowd, not entirely the same as the old Crowd.'

Just watching the news covering the #ows protests. Seem they are way ahead of my armchair general's advice and already adopting mobile (if not flash) protests and passive systems disruption. So looks like the opensource revolution is still on track and innovating (looks like they've got their own drone recording events).

Minnesota Town Replaces Police Force With Private Security

Foley is believed to be the first town in Minnesota to replace its police force with private guards, according to the Minnesota attorney general’s office.

“For the first time in our history … police are no longer immune from budget cuts,” he said.

In Minnesota, 59 police departments have been dissolved or combined with other departments since 2000, according to the League of Minnesota Cities.

We believe in volunteer fire departments why not volunteer police departments?

ed - We have tens of thousands volunteer policemen in Texas. Started some years ago when they began issuing concealed carry permits to almost anyone with a valid driver's license.

And they are all plain-clothed...don't mess with Texas. LOL

I spent six years as a volunteer for the local PD. Both a desk job and volunteer patrol. It was a hoot. But they would not let me carry a gun. (California).

My Geezer Patrol.
Volunteers cited and/or had towed a elementary school teachers car for expired tags, towed the car of a parent picking up his child from school. It's not about public safety or law enforcement, just a revenue stream.

Good for you Robert. Being such a desk jockey frees up cops for the street. A very nice contribution on your part. I'm always torn with our CC laws in Texas. Nice to carry when on a dark back road. But also a little scary around town wondering if there's some Rambo driving around looking for any excuse to pop a "bad guy"...especially if he thinks you're one. There have actually been almost no such incidents reported but it's always in the back of my mind.

Trouble is the nation state in troubled times eventually sees its citizens as the threat and acts accordingly. When the police start using drones you know you're getting close, when they arm them you know you're there.

We have CC in Wisconsin now. $50 to get the permit. I really don't see much point in carrying a pistol, but maybe if things turn for the worse...

daddy - True but I value it more for peace of mind than practicality. Besides occasionally running down dark deserted roads I go to work in an area with a significant crime rate...and usually in the early dark morning. But still the odds of my having to pull my weapon out are slim. But it's a much more relaxed ride in knowing I have the capability. If you've ever been in a situation when you wished you were armed and weren't you would understand that feeling.

Shades of Greenspan: ‘Bond King’ Bill Gross Finds Huge Flaw in Global Economy

"What has become obvious in the last few years is that debt-driven growth is a flawed business model when financial markets no longer have an appetite for it" This is quite a mouthful from Pimco's Bill Gross.


Gross finishes up with ........ When this is finally over, a lot of parties will owe the world one giant “Scusi”.

From that article:

...it appears the globe's ability to service debt—public and private - has reached a critical tipping point. Henry compares it to a ship piled with cargo (in this case debt); at some point one more piece of merchandise is going to cause the ship to capsize.

What is the fallout once it tips over? Do we have a 'forgive all debt day' and start over, or accept some form of economic collapse then try to rebuild?

All money is debt, so a "forgive all debt day" would cause economic collapse.

Senators: Don't treat oil reserve like an ATM

The Energy Department wants to sell $500 million worth of oil from strategic reserves to help generate revenue, a little-noticed provision in a spending bill highlighted by two senators on Wednesday.

Jeff Bingaman, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican, said using emergency reserves to help pay for government operations set a dangerous precedent, and they urged their colleagues to reject it.


It is only 70 billion dollars (727 million barrels) chump change. Let them play.

Karl Denninger was on MSNBC on the Dylan Ratigan show this afternoon. He was billed as the co-founder of the Tea Party. I did not know that. Anyway I have not read his blog since I saw his Birther Rant on his Market Ticker blog.

Ron P.

I have found all blogs on economics and finance are ideologically biased. You cannot objectively analyze fairy dust and unicorns.

Agree. I maintain my statement that economics is not science. There are observations that make sense (like supply/demand, the effects of monopolys etc) but the advanced economic theories are not science. They are opinions.

Or, as Herman Daly, former chief economist for the world bank, put it, economics is an ideology parading as a science (iirc).

Russian natural gas will last about 30 years at current rates of use. What does Europe plan to do for energy after 2040?

Import dilithium crystals from the USA.


I doubt if public officials are capable of thinking 30 years ahead. If they are, then 30 years ahead to them is The Far Future, a hazy science fiction dreamworld of limitless energy and Star Trek technology.

Why care? It is 6 to 10 election cycles into the future, depending on the length of an election cycle. You only care about the current one and the one right after.

Get Ready for Climate Change, says UN Panel

The toll from ever-more intense floods, drought, and heatwaves will crescendo this century unless humanity anticipates the onslaught, according to a UN report set to be unveiled on Friday.

And beyond a certain threshold, the report cautions, all efforts to adapt may be overwhelmed unless the underlying carbon emissions that drive global warming are held in check.

"One of the key take-home messages of this report is the emphasis on exposure and vulnerability," agreed Will Steffen, head of the Australian National University's Climate Change Institute.

"Science is only part of the puzzle here. The others have to do with people's resilience and adaptability."

Peak investment is a factor in peak oil.

Biggest Oil Find in Decades Becomes $39B Caution

“The biggest worry is whether the project can ever be profitable given the huge cost escalation and start-up delays,” said Julian Lee, a senior analyst for the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London. It may be “impossible for investors to earn a return on any investment in a second phase before their contract for the field expires” in 2041.

From up top:

Even though China is no longer self sufficient with respect to oil, and its dependency on the global oil industry will only increase in the years ahead, Dan believes that China’s leaders are less paranoid about this dependency than they were in the days of Mao. According to Dan, China now realizes that it can buy the energy it needs. He quotes an energy strategist in Beijing who said: “There’s no other solution but to rely on the marketplace. What’s different about exporting to America and importing energy from elsewhere? China is part of world markets.”

Daniel Yergin really seems to have grasped the art of reporting to the people.
In this piece he presents a couple of true and interesting facts concerning the history of Chinese oil production , e.g. by referencing the Spirit of Daqing/Spirit of the Iron Man. Yet, the man totally succeeds in misrepresenting the issue at hand.

In the real world, the so-called National Champions, which by far constitute the greater part of the Chinese oil sector, are acutely aware that they need to go abroad to secure concrete assets and a steady flow of oil into China.
And this definitely isn't just about buying and selling oil on the international markets, but is explicitly about going abroad to actively secure the resources that the Chinese oil sector and entire economy depend upon.

Here is a counterquote to the one Yergin presents above. The quote is from 2010 and taken from an article written by Wang Yongchun, published in a journal(the main mouthpiece of the Central Party School) called Seeking Truth:

"Going Abroad" [referring to the policy of "Going Out"] is a road we have to take in order to secure the continued development of the resource industries. It is also a historically and vitally important mission for the national core resource industries."

Vitamin D warning: Too much can harm your heart

When it comes to the heart, vitamin D can be a double-edged sword.

Scientists have long known that low levels of the nutrient can hurt the heart, but new research shows that higher than normal levels can make it beat too fast and out of rhythm, a condition called atrial fibrillation, according to a report presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.

The study, which followed 132,000 patients at a Utah based medical center, found that the risk of newly developed atrial fibrillation jumped almost three-fold when blood levels of vitamin D were high.

...High levels of vitamin D only occur when people take supplements, Bunch said. Because consumers assume supplements sold over the counter are safe, they may not realize the danger of taking too much vitamin D, he added.

I've seen this pattern over and over again. Studies find that people who get a lot of such and such a vitamin or mineral from their food are healthier, but supplements not only don't work, they are harmful.

I wonder if the key is what you aren't eating. If you get a lot of vitamins and minerals from your food, that means you're eating a lot of fruits and vegetables...and not eating as many potato chips and cookies. It's not the vitamins, so much as what the vitamins mean about your food choices.

From the linked article:

Bunch said the normal range for vitamin D was 41 to 80 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Patients in the study were designated as having excessive vitamin D had had readings above 100 ng/dl.

First, it appears the reporter has the units wrong. It should be ng/ml. A link to an article about the same study (with the correct units):


Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Centre in Utah looked at blood tests from 132,000 of their patients. They found those with vitamin D levels above 100 nanograms per 100ml, were 2.5 times more likely to have AF as those with normal levels (41-80ng/100ml).

Second, it would have been helpful if reporters had noted that the maximum safe Vitamin D blood level is 99 ng/ml. So, the scientists found that if one's Vitamin D blood levels exceeded the recommended maximum safe level, there were adverse health consequences. In related news, scientists found that people who shoot themselves in the head have poor survival rates.

After taking close to 5,000 IU of D3 for some time, I finally got my Vitamin D blood level (55 ng/ml) up to within the optimum range. The biggest Vitamin D problem facing most Americans is that they are chronically deficient in Vitamin D levels. Note that the comments following the MSNBC article are pretty interesting.

100 ml = 1 dl, the units appear to be correct.

I missed the 100 ml notation; however, all the other references to Vitamin D level I have seen, using the ng per volume measurement, had it in ng/ml. From the Vitamin D Council website:

If having a doctor test your vitamin D levels, again, make sure the correct test is ordered - a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. In addition, many doctors still consider a result of 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) to be sufficient when studies indicate otherwise. For this reason, it is a good idea to ask for the exact number value of the results or a hardcopy. Results conveyed by use of the words "normal," "within range," or similar wording might still be inadequate.

There may be a typo propagating then. I haven't looked intensively at it, I was just comparing your two references.

I don't agree with the blanket statement that "..supplements not only don't work, they are harmful. ". There is an enormous body of research which shows that when supplements are properly used, they are beneficial. Obviously when supplements are taken in excess they can be harmful. For vitamin D, checkout www.vitamindcouncil.org.

From the paper:

Bunch said the normal range for vitamin D was 41 to 80 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Patients in the study were designated as having excessive vitamin D had had readings above 100 ng/dl.

In this case, atrial fibrillation is only an issue for people whose blood levels are above 100 ng/dl. For a vast majority of people, the problem is that their blood levels are too low, not too high.

Obviously, the ideal way to get your vitamin D is to spend time outdoors in the sun. But a majority of us have to work inside office buildings and it is not practical to go out and expose your skin to the sun during winter. Use sunlight or/and supplements to keep your blood levels within normal range and you will get the benefit without the harm.

Arrgh! It's so hard figuring out which EXTREME to choose these days!!

The first step is getting your blood level tested, using the 25(OH)D test.

I do take D and fish-oil.. but don't know the level I'm at currently..

I was just riffing on the False Choice that I'm supposed to choose to be either at one extreme or the other. (ie, MASSIVE DOSES, or OBSTINATE ABSTINENCE)

'The truth is somewhere in between..'

or as we heard in Spinal Tap,

How Derek sees his role in the band.

"David and Nigel are like poets, you know, like Shelley or Byron, or people like that. The two totally distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, and I feel my role in the band is to be kind of the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water."

(you know, where lifeforms thrive..)

One wonders if sunscreens affect vitamin D production. Damned if you do, damned if you don't?

At the Cooper Clinic/Aerobics link down the thread, they note that a sunscreen with a 15 or greater SPF blocks 99% of Vitamin D synthesis. If memory serves, a woman is 55 times more likely to die from breast cancer than from skin cancer (and there is a well established linear correlation between breast cancer rates and Vitamin D levels--the higher the Vitamin D level, the lower the incidence of breast cancer).

People who have low levels of Vitamin D (less than 15 ng/ml) are 77% more likely to die in a given year than those who have greater than the recommended minimum level of Vitamin D (30 ng/ml), using the 25(OH)D test.   My doc has found that 90% of her patients, here in Texas, are Vitamin D deficient.

Some Vitamin D articles & excerpts:

Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defenses

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system – T cells - will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body.

For T cells to detect and kill foreign pathogens such as clumps of bacteria or viruses, the cells must first be 'triggered' into action and 'transform' from inactive and harmless immune cells into killer cells that are primed to seek out and destroy all traces of a foreign pathogen. The researchers found that the T cells rely on vitamin D in order to activate and they would remain dormant, 'naïve' to the possibility of threat if vitamin D is lacking in the blood.

Scientists taking vitamin D in droves

“I’ve talked casually with virtually everyone [in the vitamin D research community] that I am in contact with and they’re all taking vitamin D and they’re taking it in doses greater than 1,000,” Dr. Heaney says.

As an example, he cited a meeting a year ago of nine experts on the nutrient at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, where he circulated a sheet and asked them to jot down how much they took. The amounts: 3,000 to 10,000 IU, with an average of 5,000 IU.

Study:  Pregnant women should get more Vitamin D

In the study, 500 women who were at least 12 weeks pregnant took either 400, 2,000, or 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. The women who took 4,000 IU were least likely to go into labor early, give birth prematurely, or develop infections.

Vitamin D and programmed aging?

As we age, we lose the capacity to activate vitamin D in the skin. A practical way of looking at it is that anyone 40 years old or older has lost the majority of ability for vitamin D activation. This often makes me wonder if the loss of vitamin D activating potential is nature's way to get rid of us. After all, after 40, we've pretty much had our opportunity to recreate and make our contribution to the species (at least in a primitive world in which humans evolved): we've exhausted our reproductive usefulness to the species . . . A fascinating argument in support of this idea came from study from St Thomas’ Hospital and the London School of Medicine:

Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women:

Telomeres are the "tails" of DNA that were formerly thought to be mistakes, just coding for nonsense. But more recent thinking has proposed that telomeres may provide a counting mechanism that shortens with aging and accelerates with stress and illness. This study suggests that both vitamin D and inflammation (CRP) impact telomere length: the lower the vitamin D, the shorter the telomere length, particularly when inflammation is greater.

Now the big question: If declining vitamin D is nature's way of ensuring our decline and death, does maintaining higher vitamin D also maintain youthfulness? I don't have an answer, but it's a really intriguing idea.

Cooper Clinic on Vitamin D:

Must see short two minute clip on ABC regarding Vitamin D & breast cancer:

Vitamin D deficiencies appear to have been something of a survival issue in Northern Europe, and that appears to be why Europeans have white skin.

Homo sapiens originated in Africa, and it is likely that 50,000 years ago all humans were extremely dark skinned as a result of high sunlight levels. When they first moved to Northern Europe, this was something of a problem because they did not produce enough vitamin D and as a result, rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency) became a major killer, particularly of children.

However, about 9,000 years ago, a genetic mutation appeared that resulted in white skin, and appears to have spread like wildfire across Northern Europe. The children who had this mutation had a much higher survival rate because they seldom developed rickets. Some researchers believe it spread so fast that people would have noticed their neighbors turning whiter during their lifetimes. Today, 99% of Northern Europeans have this mutation (which is why they are so white).

One indicator is that the Roman conquerors of Britain described the Picts (who lived in Scotland) as very dark people - compared to Romans. Historians have been wondering what happened to the Picts since then? Well, they're probably still there but they turned white in the ensuing 2000 years.

Recent data from Canada indicates that 100% of the blacks in Canada are vitamin D deficient, and most of the other people are vitamin D deficient during the winter months. IOW, if you live at a high latitude, you really should take vitamin D supplements - in the winter if you are white and year-round if you are black. And if you never go outside to get some sun, you should take vitamin D supplements regardless of latitude and season.

So you are teling us that when society collapse, and vitamin pills will dissapear, northern countries will lose their darker skinned popultion segment? Racists are gonna be thrilled by this...

Well, hypothetically speaking, if civilization collapsed, dark skinned people would disappear out of the northern population and the Scandinavian countries would revert to being uniformly pale-white blue-eyed blonds.

However, since civilization is not going to collapse, the human race is going to develop into a heterogeneous mix of peoples of whom a few will be pale-white blue-eyed blonds, and the majority will be dark-skinned brown-eyed black-haired people, and then the brown-eyed black haired people will dye their hair blond and wear blue-tinted contact lenses and nobody will know the difference.

I always figured that the human race would end up all sort of coffee-with-cream colored, and we'd have to come up with something else to be bigoted about besides race. I know! Religion!

I always figured Bulworth got it right:

But we got Americans with families that can't even buy a meal/ Ask a brother who's been downsized if he's getting any deal/ Or a white boy bustin ass til they put him in his grave/ He ain't gotta be a black boy to be livin like a slave/ Rich people have always stayed on top by dividing white people from colored people/ but white people got more in common with colored people then they do with rich people/ we just gotta eliminate them. White people, black people, brown people, yellow people, get rid of 'em all/ All we need is a voluntary, free spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction/ Everybody just gotta keep f#@*in' everybody til they're all the same color.

Equal opportunity vitamin D deficiency for all ;-)

Actually, we were bigoted about religion before race became an issue.

Perhaps because when you had to travel over land to get from, say, Italy to China, you didn't really notice that people looked different, because the change was so gradual. Marco Polo didn't seem to notice that the Chinese looked different.

Yes, historically race identity is fairly recent. Some have argued it began with the 15th century Spanish Reconquista when state policy attempted to Christianize the Moors and Jews of the Iberian Peninsula. Others with the preferential selection of Africans for the slave markets and sugar plantations of the Americas.

It has been noted that racism tends to be more pronounced in regions and countries where slavery or apartheid once held sway. For example, during the Second World War the British people were genuinely mystified by the segregation of the American armed forces. The British forces had always been mixed - Indian Sepoy stood side by side with English or Scottish regulars, sometimes with other colonials like Aussies and Canucks, in the trenches of the First World War. The fighting ability of the Gurkas had been well admired and appreciated by the British Army. Serious questions were raised why anyone would separate soldiers on the basis of skin colour. Further consternation arose when British pub owners met American GIs who insisted on "all white" premises. A customer is a customer after all.

19th century Social Darwinism contributed to the strange notion that industrial prowess was somehow tied to European racial superiority. That led to the even more bizarre concept of Nordic blood mysticism that came to under gird the Nazi ideology. Germany was transformed within a decade from being a fairly racially blind culture into extreme tribal blindness (hatred).

Fortunately, most people throughout the world are oblivious to broad racial categorization. Family and localized tribal groupings, however, are the main responsive emotional triggers. These include religious and cultural divides. We tend to like people who look, think, and act like us. Wariness towards strangers is a safety mechanism - a common defensive posture.

And yet...as Jared Diamond has pointed out, somehow dark-skinned, dark-eyed people survived at high latitudes outside Europe, and in climates that get less sun than northern Europe.

And all were fish eaters (another source of Vitamin D I believe).


Fatty fish, eggs, organ meats. There are no vegan sources of vitamin D.

Some genetic research has suggested that pale skin did not evolve when humans left Africa and moved north. Rather, it developed after we started farming. Perhaps because that meant eating more grain and less game.

So maybe it will be the vegans who die off in Canada. ;-)

So maybe it will be the vegans who die off in Canada.

Nah, they come down here for the winter and turn into corduroy wrinkled, dark tanned leather ;)


Well, the vegans do have to take vitamin supplements, because there are some vitamins which are only found in meat. Vitamin B-12 leaps to mind. Human beings are not really designed to eat an all-plant diet.

In fact, there was a general decline in height and health when human beings invented agriculture and civilizations based on grain-growing arose. The paleolithic hunter-gatherers were much taller and more robust than the subsequent generations until about the middle of the 20th century. We're only now seeing people as tall as the old mammoth hunters - the modern Dutch, who are the tallest people in the world, are about the same height. (200 years ago the average Dutch man was about 5'2" tall).

I recall reading about an excavation site in central Asia. They determined the people in it were buried before the invention of grain farming. How did they know that? There were 480 people buried in it, and not one of them had a single cavity in their teeth.

They survive, but under usual (non-modern) conditions, do not tend to reproduce at high rates.

Indigenous dark-skinned groups correspond quite well with proximity to the equator around the world.

There's a correlation, but it's a fairly loose one.

Before vitamin D, the big theory was melanoma. And/or folate (sun destroys folate in people without dark skin). Those may all be factors, but I suspect Darwin was right. The real driver is sexual selection. That's why you have tribes living right next to each other, with similar histories, that end up with markedly different skin and hair colors.

And some of it might be random chance. Fingerprints vary with ethnicity, but I don't think anyone would argue that having loops instead of whorls is an advantage in one place but not another, or that prospective mates size each other up by examining fingerprints.

There is an effect that genes that are adjacent on a chromosome are far more likely to inherited together than by random chance.

If (for example) the gene for fingerprint pattern was next to the gene for skin colour, then fingerprints will evolve in a similar distribution of alleles that skin colour does. In evolutionary terms, they just get taken along for the ride.

Recent data from Canada indicates that 100% of the blacks in Canada are vitamin D deficient

Guess how much vitamin D Somali immigrant women in burkha gets in Sweden. I hope we persuade most of them to supplement.

My doc has found that 90% of her patients, here in Texas, are Vitamin D deficient.

Seems very odd - Texas is essentially a sun-drenched state ... don't its residents go outside and soak up some rays occasionally? Not even sit on a bench and read the newspaper for 20 minutes? What a strange people Americans seem to be.

Hyperwarming climate could turn Earth's poles green

AN ERA of ice that has gripped Earth's poles for 35 million years could come to an end as extreme global warming really begins to bite. Previously unknown sources of positive feedback - including "hyperwarming" that was last seen on Earth half a billion years ago - may push global temperatures high enough to send Earth into a hothouse state with tropical forests growing close to the poles.

Thanks. Interesting, if rather depressing/maddening.

I hadn't thought about sea level rise as a part of a feedback system before.


"Oil exports excluding Angola and Ecuador to rise by 850,000 BPD in 4 weeks to Dec. 3"

I wonder where all of this is coming from, they do not give any info so I don't know how credible it is. Perhaps those with a RanSquawk a/c get more info.

A good chunk of that may come from LIbya, which is rapidly coming back on stream. The rest is probably wishful thinking.

How about recycling...houses?

THE house was just $1. The catch? A delivery charge of nearly $22,000.

...Owners of used-house lots, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, on the Gulf and East Coasts and in the Upper Midwest, said their sales had increased as much as 60 percent over the last three years.

Warren Davie, the owner of Davie Shoring, a structural mover with a used-house lot in Kenner, La., outside New Orleans, said his business has increased 50 percent since 2008.

“It seems like we’re even busier when the economy is bad,” Mr. Davie said. “People are looking for a way to save on demolition and dump fees on one end and save on building costs on the other end.”

Not much new. In the recession of last-1980ish, there were a number of house movers I knew of, doing a brisk business. A neighbor back then bought a large used house to replace his old trailer. And if the old timers are correct, our home was moved to this site on logs by livestock nearly 100 yrs ago.

Paw U and his colleagues found that deforestation in the boreal region, north of 45 degrees latitude, results in a net cooling effect. While cutting down trees releases carbon into the atmosphere, it also increases an area's albedo, or reflection of sunlight. Surface temperatures in open, nonforested, high-latitude areas were cooler because these surfaces reflected the sun's rays, while nearby forested areas absorbed the sun's heat. At night, without the albedo effect, open land continued to cool faster than forests, which force warm turbulent air from aloft to the ground.

I jog all winter. I run next to huge (100+ acres) open grass fields and then head back into heavily housed subdivision. In the winter (we almost always have deep snowcover) the temp plummets as I approach these areas and then steadily rise as I move back into the housing areas. Obviously elevation plays a roll here too, but in the case its pretty much level. I would not want to live next to a huge grass field in winter, much better to live in a coniferous forest.

The cure for global warming has been solved. Cut down every last tree in Canada/Alaska/Russia/north Europe.


Central bank gold buying at 40-year high

Central banks made their largest purchases of gold in decades in the third quarter as a sharp drop in prices in September spurred buying to diversify reserves.

The scale of the purchases at 148.4 tonnes on a net basis was far bigger than previously disclosed and puts central banks on track to buy more gold than at any time since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system 40 years ago, the last time the value of the dollar was linked to gold.

Analysts said the buying, led by emerging market central banks intent on diversifying their growing foreign exchange reserves, helped explain gold’s rebound from a low of $1,534 a troy in September as large hedge funds such as Paulson & Co were forced to sell some gold to cover losses elsewhere.

Boeing delivers first batch of 30,000-pound bombs to Air Force

The weapon's explosive power is 10 times greater than its bunker-buster predecessor, the BLU-109. And it is nearly five tons heavier than the 22,600-pound GBU-43 MOAB surface bomb, sometimes called the "mother of all bombs.

Experts took note of the fact that the military disclosed delivery of the new bunker-busting bomb less than a week after a United Nations agency warned that Iran was secretly working to develop a nuclear weapon. ... "Heck of a coincidence, isn't it?" ...

At a total cost of about $314 million, the military has developed and ordered 20 of the GPS-guided bombs, called Massive Ordnance Penetrators.

Pentagon successfully tests hypersonic flying bomb

The Pentagon has invested 239.9 million dollars in the Global Strike program this year, including 69 million for the flying bomb tested Thursday, CRS said.

Over $600 million. Probably couldn't find a constructive use for the money

The US Army's AHW project is part of "Prompt Global Strike" program which seeks to give the US military the means to deliver conventional weapons anywhere in the world within an hour.

"When it absolutely, positively, has to be there to blow someone up..." - Federal Excess

*grumble* Let Iran have their nuclear program. Tired of all this wag the dog, smoke and mirrors posturing that takes mindshare away from fixing things at home. Can only guess such paths only further help the one percent, as I lack the understanding of any other 'profit' for such courses of action. *grumble*

Will attacking them help mitigate Peak Oil?
Or does it just take eyes away from the recession, unemployment, and economic collapse?

I am ignorant on this one, and welcome any enlightenment.

And today the Russian military chief warns of heightened nuclear war risks, and looking ahead at their emerging demographics, nuclear is the easiest for them.

And Italy and Greece have riots over government control by the bankers, while Wall Street and the S&P drop like a stone, WTI drops 4 and the OWS crowd has a day of disruption.

Just another day.

Reminds me of the sixties, of Simon and Garfinkel's Six o'clock News in some respects. Perhaps it's just general malaise, apathy as daylight shortens and temps keep falling.

Hungarian firm was likely radiation leak source

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A Hungarian manufacturer of medical radioactive substances was "most probably" the source of increased radiation levels measured in several European countries in the past weeks, the U.N. nuclear agency said Thursday.

also Radiation Mystery Solved? Budapest 'Probably' the Source

The answer doesn't add up - but the sheeple will believe it.

These are not the droids you are looking for.

There's a bizarre spin on some research being carried by multiple news agencies. Here's one example

Radiation levels in Fukushima are lower than predicted

They found just 10 people with unusually high levels of radiation, but those levels were still below the threshold at which acute radiation syndrome sets in and destroys the gastrointestinal tract. Geiger-counter readings categorised all others in the area at a "no contamination level".

How did the population of Fukushima prefecture dodge the radioactivity? Gerry Thomas at Imperial College London, director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, says the answer is simple. "Not an awful lot [of radioactive material] got out of the plant – it was not Chernobyl." The Chernobyl nuclear disaster released 10 times as much radiation as Fukushima Daiichi.

The actual facts are that the emergency response team discussed in the paper were looking for very high levels of external contamination requiring urgent decontamination. In fact you had to be several hundred times background before you were considered contaminated. This was not a survey which said anything about internal contamination levels either.

The same team however have estimated exposure doses in other papers.

The time variation of dose rate artificially increased by the Fukushima nuclear crisis

The maximum dose rate in air within the high level contamination area was 36 μGy h−1, and the estimated maximum cumulative external dose for evacuees who came from Namie Town to evacuation sites (e.g. Fukushima, Koriyama and Nihonmatsu Cities) was 68 mSv. The evacuation is justified from the viewpoint of radiation protection.

They did later use a whole body scanner on the staff who had responded but not on the evacuees. The report says that all staff turned out to be negative for internal exposure. However it has since emerged that the scanner used was incorrectly calibrated but that was not discovered until after the reports submission.

However somehow New Scientist manages to get the headline "Radiation levels in Fukushima are lower than predicted" even though the paper makes no such claim. Professor Gerry "I glow in the dark" Thomas pops up with her usual nonsense ("Not a lot") . Has nobody told her even the Japanese admit to more than a tenth of Chernobyl now? And then there's the highly reputable third party reports, based on access to Test Ban Treaty sensors and other sources ,which put the total air and sea releases as greater than Chernobyl. Still unless Gerry Thomas actually starts to fission, I'm sure she'll still assure us everything is just fine.


"The Entire System Has Been Utterly Destroyed By The MF Global Collapse" - Presenting The First MF Global Casualty

I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy... The futures and options markets are no longer viable. It is my recommendation that ALL customers withdraw from all of the markets as soon as possible so that they have the best chance of protecting themselves and their equity. The system is no longer functioning with integrity and is suicidally risk-laden. The rule of law is non-existent, instead replaced with godless, criminal political cronyism.

The Importance of Saving Money

Stan takes his $100 check and makes an investment into South Park Bank. Annndd it's gone.

She's not the only person saying this.

Good article from the Golden Jackass:


Ann Barnhardt is a real piece of work.


Her response to an alleged death threat and her website.

Good for her.

A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise.

Marxist? Sounds like a good capitalist to me...

UN warns of staple crop virus 'epidemic'

UN scientists are warning that a virus attacking the cassava plant is nearing an epidemic in parts of Africa. Cassava is one of the world's most important crops providing up to a third of the calorie intake for many people.

The food and agriculture organisation of the UN says the situation is urgent and are calling for an increase in funding for surveillance. None of the varieties of cassava being distributed to farmers in Africa appears to be resistant to the virus.

None of the varieties of cassava being distributed to farmers in Africa

This is creepy wording. Since when do farmers need to have varieties "distributed to" them? Farmers used to be the people who bred, refined, saved seeds for, and propagated successful varieties -- not passive recipients. So who is doing this mysterious, anonymous distributing? And what "varieties" are being distributed? Could they be hybridised, patented seeds pushed on Africa as some kind of "aid"? or as somehow "superior" to the traditional local varieties?

Inquiring minds would like to know the back story here.

Stranded passengers forced to pay extra to cover airplane's refueling

LONDON -- Airlines have already begun charging for food, drinks, seat assignments and baggage. Now one is demanding that passengers cough up extra cash on board for fuel.

Hundreds of passengers traveling from India to Britain were stranded for six hours in Vienna when their Comtel Air flight stopped for fuel on Tuesday. The charter service asked them to kick in more than 20,000 pounds ($31,000) to fund the rest of the flight to Birmingham, England.

The situation may represent a new low in customer care in an era when flyers are seeing long lines, long waits and few perks.

Britain's Channel 4 news broadcast video showing a Comtel cabin crew member telling passengers: "We need some money to pay the fuel, to pay the airport, to pay everything we need. If you want to go to Birmingham, you have to pay."

Reminds me of the joke about the vendo-matic airline. You have to keep stuffing quarters into the slot so the plane will keep flying.

Get the ships back out. Air travel is dead as far as i'm concerned. I'd personally rather travel by ship, airplanes are a aluminum pop can with about as much room as a coffin.

I'd personally rather travel by ship, airplanes are a aluminum pop can with about as much room as a coffin.

I concur with extreme predjudice. What use to be a very enjoyable experience has turned into a series of nightmares. First there is the security check, which is intrusive and always makes me worry I'll forget some of my valuables in a plastic tray. Then there's the sardine action of getting seated in seats that have been squeezed into much smaller spaces. At 6'3" I have to lean inwards from the aisle seat or constantly get my shoulder dinged. My knees and shins are flush with the back of the seat in front. If the person in front drops back, they're leaning on my knees. Every single seat on board has been sold at least once, sometimes twice.

It's no longer enjoyable, but rather the only realistic alternative to driving 2-3 thousand miles. Grin and bear it, then feel completely drained later when the ordeal is finally over and hopefully still have everything including the luggage which they have temporarily lost twice!

I don't fly any more for those and other reasons (i.e. one trip destroys my 'earths' score on www.myfootprint.com).

Stopped flying some years ago. If I must travel long distances, I take the train -- which even in the benighted US is still far more pleasant than flying. It's also more expensive (if you want any sleeper accommodation, it's quite a bit more expensive) but it's a treat instead of an ordeal.

The only time I've flown in recent history was to be with my distraught Mum in a hurry, immediately after my father's death. I was grateful for the rapidity of air travel that day, but otherwise... fuhgeddaboudit. They treat you like a criminal, then they treat you like feedlot cattle.

Republicans push drilling plan to pay for roads, bridges

House Republican leaders today unveiled a plan to expand oil and gas drilling in the nation’s lands and waters and use the royalties from those projects to pay for better bridges and roads.

Republicans hope to leverage the proposals to boost domestic energy production by tying them to the transportation authorization measure.

related Boehner Behind Misguided Effort to Drill for Highway Bill

Can you hear that? It's the distant chant of "drill, baby, drill" emanating from Capitol Hill.

Today House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) formally kicks off his party's attempt to "drill for a highway bill" when he announces the GOP's push to expand oil and gas drilling to fund transportation infrastructure projects.

S - Been a while since I saw the rules but last I knew all fed royality income goes into the general fund and isn't (cannot?) be earmarked for any specific budget item. Maybe they have (or will) change the rule.

Of course, if they open those areas up soon it could still take 10+ years for any significant production to come off those lands...if it's there in the first place. Probably long after most of those politicians are out of office.

Iraqi Oil Production Hits a Crossroad

A row in Iraq could either spur the country's oil production to grow even faster, or set it back considerably.

If ExxonMobil's deal with the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government to explore for oil and gas in the Kurdish region in the north of the country, announced last week, can get the blessing of Baghdad, it could be the catalyst for more oil production from the area, which holds around a third of Iraq's 143 billion barrels of oil reserves.

But if Iraq's central government follows through on threats to kick out the U.S. oil company from other contracts, the opposite could happen.

Norway hit by major data-theft attack

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Data from Norway's oil and defense industries may have been stolen in what is feared to be one of the most extensive data espionage cases in the country's history, security officials said Thursday.

Industrial secrets from companies were stolen and "sent out digitally from the country," the Norwegian National Security Authority said, though it did not name any companies or institutions that were targeted.

The attacks often occurred when companies were negotiating large contracts, the agency said

Dutch prosecutors want Trafigura fine doubled

THE HAGUE — Dutch prosecutors Thursday asked a court to slap a two-million-euro fine on multinational oil trader Trafigura for the illegal export of toxic waste later dumped in Ivory Coast.

After arrival, toxic residues on board the Probo Koala were prevented from being offloaded for treatment in Amsterdam's port and redirected to Abidjan, where it was dumped on city waste tips.

Trafigura, which denies any link between the waste and subsequent deaths and has an independent experts' report backing its stance, reached out of court settlements for 33 million euros and 152 million euros in Britain and Ivory Coast that exempted it from legal proceedings.

But a United Nations report published in September 2009, found "strong" evidence blaming the waste for at least 15 deaths.

Study shows nanoparticles used as additives in diesel fuels can travel from lungs to liver

Recent studies conducted at Marshall University have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide -- common diesel fuel additives used to increase the fuel efficiency of automobile engines -- can travel from the lungs to the liver and that this process is associated with liver damage.

Cerium oxide nanoparticles are used in the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency and reduce particulate emissions.

Who is surprised? We spew thousands of new chemicals and now nano-chemicals into our lives every year with nothing like meaningful testing. Hey, whatever works for the bottom line.

Some background on the recently 'appointed' government of Greece

Austerity and Fascism in Greece: The Real 1% Doctrine

Quite an eye opener, and makes too much sense, historically, to be ignored. Recommended reading.

In conclusion:

The implications of the EU and bankers forcing Greece, the birthplace of democracy, to cancel a popular plebiscite as “irresponsible,” forcing instead an austerity regime composed partly of neo-Nazis fascists to administer more “pain”–is something that should frighten the **** out of everyone. Because like it or not, we’re all in the cross-hairs of the same banking interests, and we’re all going to face it again and again. Greece just happens to be the first in line.

European Bailout Fund For Greek Money Laundering And Fraud

The ink wasn’t even dry yet on the European bailout fund, the EFSF when it paid $1.3 billion to bail out Proton Bank in Greece. Turns out, Proton had siphoned off $1 billion in a scheme of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and offshore front companies, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. And then a bomb exploded.

The bomb, fabricated of dynamite, demolished four cars in front of a building in Halandri, a suburb of Athens. Not a coincidence: in the building lived a senior employee of the Bank of Greece, whose meticulous investigation of Proton Bank had exposed the massive criminal scheme. According to the police, the bomb was intended as a warning to those who attempt to shed light on these kinds of machinations.

The new "normal" of looting and making out like bandits as the chaos of collapse swirls around our economic foundations. How long have we got left? Weeks, months... days? Before the whole rotten global financial structure succumbs to gravity?

Major global increase in energy use, emissions predicted at MITEI colloquium

Speaking at a colloquium sponsored by the MIT Energy Initiative, Howard Gruenspecht, acting administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), outlined key findings from the EIA’s report, "International Energy Outlook 2011." According to the report, released in September, fossil fuels will continue to supply 80 percent of the world’s energy in 2035, and worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise 43 percent between 2008 and 2035.

This year’s predictions are especially tenuous due to the global economic crisis, Gruenspecht said: “Long-range energy projections are always highly uncertain, but many developments over the past years make this outlook even more uncertain than usual.” In addition to the economic slowdown, Gruenspecht cited recent social and political unrest in North Africa and the unanticipated repercussions of Japan’s recent nuclear disaster.

The economy is a very key driver of energy,” he said.

The EIA itself makes no policy predictions, however. “We’re under strictures not to make assumptions about policy changes,” Gruenspecht said. “We base our reference case projections on existing laws and policies. That’s different from other organizations that forecast.”

The world will use up to 112.2 million barrels of liquid fuel a day by 2035, including petroleum as well as a small but growing percentage of unconventional liquids such as biofuel and shale oil, according to the EIA report. The EIA predicts worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will reach 43.2 billion metric tons in 2035

- Nothing, if not consistently wrong and Ass-Backwards

Not a chance in h### we come near that number by 2035. We'll be lucky if we can get across town by bicycle without being attacked by OWS zombies. Its going to be ugly if they (federal/local governments) can't keep at least some control.

"We'll be lucky if we can get across town by bicycle without being attacked by OWS zombies."

WTF? You've got it completely backwards.

We'll be lucky if we can get across town by bicycle without being arrested by (federal/local governments). You know, for failure to contribute to the economy or some such offense.

Nope. OWS will have mutated by then. Cops will be monitoring the situation by aerial drones.

I have a hard time thinking the government will be able to control these crazies. There are some wackos out there.

LoL! If you believe federal/local governments are going to save your ass then you're the crazy one.

I have a hard time thinking the government will be able to control these crazies. There are some wackos out there.

couldn't agree more, except that the wackos I'm worried about are teaching economics and running banks...

I have a hard time thinking the government will be able to control these crazies.

These are American Citizens. By what right should the government be controlling them?!

"We are here to go, we gotta find a way off this godd*mn cop-ridden planet."

- William S. Burroughs

"We'll be lucky if we can get across town by bicycle without being attacked by OWS zombies."

That made me laugh. I just finished World War Z. It goes back to the library tomorrow.

Is it just me or does there seem to be more credibility than expected in this cold fusion (sorry, LENR = low energy nuclear reaction) story out of Bologna, Italy? Rossi & Co. impressed the head of the Swedish Academy of Sciences and the head of a Swedish skeptics society. Now there is some kind of corroboration from the University of Illinois. I realize that the odds are in favor of honest mistakes - I don't see much incentive for perpetrating a hoax. Anyone with more knowledge about this please provide up to date information. Now, back to preparing for the collapse of civilization.

I have seen nothing convincing. The latest demo was supposed to be 1000KW but only produced 500KW which just happens to be the capacity of the standard electrical generator that was attached to the setup (supposedly for start up purposes only).

It showed absolutely nothing. It was just smoke and mirrors claims. Penn and Teller could do better.


I think it's hoax. I'm reminded of Steorn's Orbo, which also had supposed scientists and engineers supporting it. But scientists and engineers, even legitimate ones, aren't very good at detecting fraud. They are looking for mistakes, not deception.

You or I would not see much incentive for a hoax, but Rossi has a track record of doing just that: Petroldragon. A scam that landed him in jail. He actually built the plant, but instead of turning waste into oil, he illegally dumped it. Jimmy Carter was so impressed he offered Rossi a visa, but Petroldragon was scam.

Someone in Italy told me that it was reported in the press there that an Italian on a business trip to Florida asked to visit Rossi's company there. Rossi said no, the cores are manufactured there and no visitors are permitted. The guy went anyway, and found no factory. The address was an empty condo with a "for sale" sign on it.

Rossi's whole pattern is disingenuous. He set up a blog and tried to claim it was a scientific journal. The "scientific advisors" he listed don't exist or didn't know he was using their names. He claims a "degree" that came from a diploma mill (since shut down by the government). Never mind the previous scam, Petroldragon.

And didn't he promise e-Cats would be for sale by October? Well, there's this, but so far, it's just vaporware.

more oil coming:


this is based on estimates of bentek energy:


i thought that all optimistic forecasts come from cera...

Asian powers spurn German debt on EMU chaos

Andrew Roberts, rates chief at Royal Bank of Scotland, said Asia's exodus marks a dangerous inflexion point in the unfolding drama. "Japanese and Asian investors are for the first time looking at the euro project and saying `I don't like what I see at all' and fleeing the whole region.

"The question on everybody's mind in the debt markets is whether it is time to get out Germany. The European Central Bank has a €2 trillion balance sheet and if the eurozone slides into the abyss, Germany is going to be left holding the baby. We are very close to the point where markets take a close look at this, though we are there yet," he said.

Not to mention the US's $3 trillion exposure to German and French debt. That's just the direct exposure, then there's the hidden derivatives time-bomb. How long have we got left? Weeks, months... days?